GOP senators sound off on Trump refugee order

GOP senators sound off on Trump refugee order

GOP lawmakers are speaking out against President Trump’s executive order barring many refugees and citizens of certain predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (R-Ariz.) called the order "unacceptable" amid concerns that it would prevent legal permanent residents from entering the U.S., which the administration attempted to clarify on Saturday.

"President Trump and his administration are right to be concerned about national security, but it’s unacceptable when even legal permanent residents are being detained or turned away at airports and ports of entry," Flake said in a statement.

"Enhancing long term national security requires that we have a clear-eyed view of radical Islamic terrorism without ascribing radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims," Flake added.

The Department of Homeland Security said Saturday that Trump's order also applies to green card holders from the seven affected countries — Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Yemen — which are all predominantly Muslim.

A senior administration official said that those with green cards, which serve as proof of their permanent legal residence in the U.S., would need a case-by-case waiver if they were outside the country and wanted to return to the U.S.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a vocal Trump critic, also issued a statement Saturday calling the order overly broad and arguing that it played into the hands of terrorist organizations looking to turn Muslims against the U.S.


"There are two ways to lose our generational battle against jihadism by losing touch with reality. The first is to keep pretending that jihadi terrorism has no connection to Islam or to certain countries,” Sasse said. “That’s been a disaster.”

“And here's the second way to fail: If we send a signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and that this is America versus one religion,” he added.

“Both approaches are wrong, and both will make us less safe. Our generational fight against jihadism requires wisdom," he added.

In a series of tweets on Saturday evening, Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashThe Memo: Fears of violence grow amid Trump race storm Top Missouri newspaper condemns GOP's 'shameful silence' on Trump's 'racism' Amash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' MORE (R-Mich.) also railed against Trump's order, arguing that it undermined the Constitution and was too extreme in its approach.

"We must do much more to properly vet refugees, but a blanket ban represents an extreme approach not consistent with our nation's values," Amash wrote in a tweet.

Still, GOP leaders on Saturday remained relatively silent on the order, which bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and halts entry for 90 days for those hailing from the seven countries identified by U.S. officials.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report Ocasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller MORE lauded the order on Friday, and an aide to the Wisconsin Republican dismissed criticism Saturday that the order amounted to religious discrimination against Muslims.

"We are a compassionate nation, and I support the refugee resettlement program, but it’s time to reevaluate and strengthen the visa vetting process," Ryan said in a statement.

"This is why we passed bipartisan legislation in the wake of the Paris attacks to pause the intake of refugees. President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country."

Both Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (R-Ky.) previously denounced Trump's plan to temporarily ban foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. while he was a presidential candidate.

Democrats and civil-rights groups on Saturday ripped Trump's order, with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE (D-N.Y.) calling on the Department of Homeland Security to immediately "rescind" it.