Arizona Lawmakers Split On Trump Order Halting Refugee Admissions

By Arren Kimbel-Sannit

WASHINGTON – Arizona lawmakers split over President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending refugee admissions and stalling travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, with Democrats predictably voicing opposition – along with some Republicans.

Friday’s order placed a 120-day hold on refugee admissions and halted Syrian refugee admissions indefinitely. It also blocked citizens from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Trump said the delay is necessary to ensure the vetting process for refugees is stringent enough to keep terrorists from slipping into the country.

The order stopped some students, tourists and permanent American residents with green cards from boarding planes worldwide over the weekend, leading to protests at airports, including Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International, and a rally outside the White House.

Some Arizona lawmakers defended the order Monday, arguing that national security should take precedence.

Related coverage:

Click here for a fuller listing of how Arizona lawmakers responded to the order

“This temporary pause in accepting refugees and immigrants from terrorist strongholds is not only legal – it is the necessary first step to positively reforming our refugee program,” said Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, in a statement issued Monday.

But many Democrats were quick to blast the order as nothing less than un-American.

“The United States of America has never known a politics as toxic as this,” Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, said in a prepared statement Friday. He went on to say that people “will undoubtedly perish as a result of this executive order.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the executive order in a press conference Monday.

“When you note the polls that were going out this morning, the majority of Americans agree with the president,” Spicer said. “They recognize that the steps that he’s taken were to keep this country safe and to make sure that we didn’t look back and say, ‘I wish we had done the following.’”

While Democrats agreed that the safety of Americans is paramount, they said the president’s order fails to address that concern.

“My first responsibility in Congress is to strengthen our national security and protect our communities,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Sedona, said in a prepared statement Monday. “President Trump’s broad executive order banning refugees from entering our country fails to make America more secure.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, joined Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, to warn that the executive order could end up being “a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.”

McCain and Graham said the order would do more to boost terrorist recruitment than it would improve national security, and that it sends the wrong message to the majority of Muslims who reject the Islamic State.

The statement by the two senior Republican senators sparked a Twitter rebuke by Trump, who called McCain and Graham “weak on immigration,” “always looking to start World War III” and said they should focus their energies on national security issues.

Other Arizona Republicans who could be reached expressed full support for the president.

“Above all else, this action will uphold the most important job of the federal government – to provide for the national defense of the American people,” said Gosar, who added that we “know for a fact that terrorists are trying to infiltrate the ranks of refugees and other visitors coming to the United States.”

Like many defenders of the president’s action, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, claimed that it follows precedent from President Barack Obama’s administration. In 2011, Obama temporarily suspended visas from Iraqi nationals based on FBI intelligence, and in 2015 his administration eliminated visa waivers for the seven countries named by Trump.

Those actions were not as sweeping as Trump’s orders, reducing but not eliminating visas from Iraq. But Biggs welcomed Trump’s action as part of a “sincere desire to prioritize the safety and security of Americans.”

“This order is exactly what President Trump said he would do during the campaign, and he should be applauded for following through with his promises,” Biggs said. “The United States of America will always be a nation of and compassionate to immigrants, but we must ensure the safety of American citizens above all else.”

About Cronkite News 2347 Articles
Cronkite News is the news division of Arizona PBS. The daily news products are produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Hey everyone! This bill is the same as Obama signed but NEVER enforced. It is good to have a man of action in place to get things done and enforce.

  2. Trump didn’t think through the consequences as to how his edict was going to be carried out, nor did he talk to any of the people that would know. Most of the people that were detained or turned away had been vetted and scrutinized far more than his cabinet or his taxes.

    • Obama didn’t think through the consequences of changing his policy towards Cuba. As a result, hundreds were returned to hopeless situations in a cruel dictatorship. Obama didn’t consider the consequences of his complete ban on visas from certain Muslim countries that lasted six months until it was discovered because his edict was done secretly. Trump’s order, which followed existing law, inconvenienced a few for a couple of days. His order is temporary, and is intended to result in better security of our people. Tell me, Cecelia: how many unvetted refugees are you willing to personally sponsor and take responsibility for?

  3. The fastest way to get the Dems to change course is to have an ISIS guy slip in and go BOOM. Hopefully, that won’t happen.As if all the disgusting actions of the Dems aren’t bad enough now, just wait till tonight when Trump announces his SC pick!

  4. The “toxic politics” Grijalva condemns arises from the Democrat Party`s inability to deal with the fact that Hilary, their flawed candidate (to put it as generously as feasible) lost the Presidential election and has chosen the road of undermining the legitimacy of Trump`s Presidency rather than the traditional route in such circumstances, that of civil, honest democratic political opposition. Democrats accused the GOP of wanting to make Obama a one term Prez, that has been the usual, time honored goal of those losing a Presidential election in America, but the Democrats wish to deny Prez Trump his right to govern as Prez through an unrelenting, illegitimate undermining of him simply because he won the election.
    Will people perish as a result of this order, as Grijalva asserts? Grijalva offers nothing to support that conclusion and the available evidence is, that those refugees about to travel to the U. S. will only be inconvenienced by a travel suspension of 3 months and the additional period of time necessary for the Trump Administration to vet individuals sufficiently to assure, in their judgement, that the refugee does not pose a threat to America.
    As for Senators the McCain/Graham criticisms that the E. O. will boost terrorist recruitment and that it sends the wrong message to peaceful Muslims, these are merely bald assertions with no supporting rationales. Why would potential recruits be more likely to join ISIS on learning that we are taking added measures to protect American citizens from acts of terrorism on our soil and why is such a message to peaceful Muslims wrong? Please note that about 1.3 BILLION Muslims worldwide are not affected by this E. O. and thus will not be inconvenienced in any manner whatsoever.

    • Great post. Unfortunately the libs are too selfish to help anybody. They are just actors in the stage of life, not really living it or feeling it. They need to feel important and power full because they have no substance to them. They are empty and souless, that’s why they can scream obscenities,destroy other people’s property, and just plain rage out of control.
      Sometimes I feel sorry for them because this life is so short and for them that’s frightening. But most of the time I smile at what awaits them in their old age. The next generation might just condemn them, they will reap what they have sown,one can only hope.

  5. I have a question for everyone, but first, some facts. I believe all of us have compassion for people that are down and and out. Homeless people, homeless vets killing themselves, refugees, immigrants who want to enter the USA to build a future in a country where you are free to get a job and speak you mind without reprisals. Really!!!!! Exactly what country are we talking about here.
    You can speak you mind if you are a Democrat or a Liberal California or New York Snow Flake.
    Other that that you will find yourself being beaten by bullies.
    I believe Trump did the right thing, yes, someone forgot to mention that there could be people on planes on the way with the proper paperwork. 109 people got delayed for a few hours. And the protesters across the nation were on the job in minutes. Who made that phone call? George Soros? I heard he’s the guy who spent 90,000,000.00 million dollars paying the women and law breakers in the women’s march that created all the damage.
    Funny, the right to life march; no damage or destruction.
    So if you will here’s my question.
    If McCain, Graham, Grijalva and the snow flakes are so concerned about down trodden people and their families why do we have the following.
    14,000 people a day homeless in Arizona, 23% of homeless men in Arizona are veterans.
    82,000 people a day receive emergency food boxes. Info per: PHOENIX RESCUE MISSION.
    California homeless population 2016 = 115,738: LA homeless population 41,174 that is 7% of the nations homeless. Info provided by:
    Why aren’t the Democrats and the snow flakes moving these people and their children into their guest houses and provide them with shelter and food.
    Here’s why: They are all talk and no substance. They talk a great story and that’s all it is, A BIG ACT. That’s what their good at.
    Go Donald, the forgotten man is in you corner.
    Here’s a novel solution, Bring back the Draft. Get these out of work, uneducated protesters off the streets and teach them some discipline, respect, and a trade.
    It’s also about time learning the Constitution, The Bill of Rights should be mandatory
    in all schools, starting in grade school, then repeated every year till students really understand what it means.
    Then you can call Chuck Schumer and explain to the cry baby why he is incorrect and Donald Trump is correct.
    It appears Schumer has not read or does not understand what the Constitution says.
    So all you bleeding hearts so concerned about the abused immigrants who got delayed a little; stand up, put your money where you mouth is, and lets got our down trodden American in country outcasts taken care of first.
    If you do not love the United States of America, call Whoppie and Judd, I’m sure they will help you move to what ever country you wish to move to.
    Oops sorry, those countries are not interested in having you as a resident.
    And that is my humble opinion.

  6. I cannot for the life of me seen such lawlessness in this country! I have lived thru 11 presidents and only one has kept his word, President Trump. I am so disgusted by Republicans who as usual are caving in and not standing up to the dems. They have control of both Houses and they are acting like little punks afraid of the bully who only weighs 90 lbs.

    I signed a petition to remove mccain this morning and hope it works because just the sight of him makes my gag reflexes kicks in.
    If we the people who voted for Trump don’t stand up for him, then we deserve what we get, our last chance taken from us. Then we hang are heads in shame as they tell us to shut up and sit down.

  7. Thanks for the article! But explain please–just how do you know this is true?
    “The order stopped some students, tourists and permanent American residents with green cards from boarding planes worldwide over the weekend, …” And there is evidence that this is NOT true “leading to protests at airports, including Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International, and a rally outside the White House.” The protests were NOT spontaneous.

    • What I do not understand is, if a refugee from any of the designated high-risk countries has come here, settled, and gotten a green card, why would they go back to the war-torn country of their origin? Visiting a war zone such as Syria or Iran which is controlled by religious maniacs would not be my idea of an ideal vacation. I do know that many of the Somali young women are sent back by their families to marry a cousin, but the young bride usually returns to the US. Anybody in those designated countries who have helped either our military personnel or our allies who are now under threat from the enemy should have first priority given by our military commanders/allied commanders to be on the next flight out. I’ve known of a family here in Tucson who were in that very circumstance, the husband was an interpreter for US forces, the family was bushwhacked by al-Qaeda, survived through the grace of God, & relocated here. They are a wonderful family and deserved to be helped by the US government, quickly, as tarrying any longer in their country would have been a death sentence. However, I cannot imagine that a refugee who has come here, passed the vetting, & received a green card, but returned to their country would have the power to do anything to help any remaining family members or friends to come to the US as refugees, so why return to a dangerous situation?

  8. Find it very interesting that McCain and Graham are on Grijalvas side on this issue. Lets just get rid of all 3.

  9. Can anyone here tell me why “your comment is awaiting moderation” appeared on my comment and what it means.

  10. He is fulfilling his campaign promise, which is more than the majority of politicians ever do. If his actions save just one person from a Radical Islamic Terrorist bomber it is worth the vicious, evil personal attacks by the Radical Leftist’s at him for being a Patriot, which those that seem to want a terrorist to get into our country want to happen and I do not consider them to be Patriotic people.

Comments are closed.