On Sunday, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham questioned President Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigrants. Trump said he was “establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States.”
That decision sparked confusion at airports and resulted in a lawsuit by the ACLU. The organization challenged the president’s executive order in court as violating the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Federal District Court Judge Ann M. Donnelly issued a stay, blocking the policy from taking effect and preventing refugees and immigrants from being deported. Donnelly did not rule on the constitutionality of the order.
President Trump claimed his “policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.”
According to an ABC News report: “The State Department stopped processing Iraq refugees for six months in 2011, federal officials told ABC News – even for many who had heroically helped U.S. forces as interpreters and intelligence assets.”
The key difference is that President Obama’s action did not affect Green Card holders.
“It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security,” said McCain and Graham. “Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.”
In response, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a statement:
“In applying the provisions of the president’s executive order, I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.
Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, “Upon issuance of the court orders yesterday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immediately began taking steps to comply with the orders. Concurrently, the Department of Homeland Security continues to work with our partners in the Departments of Justice and State to implement President Trump’s executive order on protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.”
In typical McCain fear mongering fashion, the senators’ statement concluded, “Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
Trump responded in a tweet, “Senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.”