No surprise: Sen. Tom Cotton and Sen. John Boozman are backing Donald Trump’s controversial executive order — rolled out chaotically, incompetently, and arguably unconstitutionally over the weekend — enacting an immediate 90-day ban on entry into the U.S. from citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations as well as a 120-ban on entry for all refugees.
The order has been met with massive protests nationwide. It’s also been opposed or criticized by numerous GOP lawmakers.
The Washington Post has the known count as of last night: Sixteen Republican members of congress expressed outright opposition — six senators and ten representatives. Statements released included the following: “Such a hasty process risks harmful results. … It’s unacceptable when even legal permanent residents are being detained or turned away at airports and ports of entry. … If we send a signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win … This is ridiculous. … Trump’s executive order overreaches and undermines our constitutional system. … The president’s policy entirely misses the mark. … immediately problematic. … ultimate display of mistrust…will erode allies’ willingness to fight with us. … poorly implemented.”
(The D-G this morning called this opposition “a handful of Republicans that criticized Trump’s order.”)
Meanwhile, 23 more Republican members of Congress — that’s 11 senators and 12 reps — have expressed strong reservations or withheld support.
But not Cotton and Boozman! They were among the approximately 40 Republican members of Congress who have expressed support for Trump’s executive order (many others — including, as far as I know, the rest of the Arkansas congressional delegation — have thus far stayed silent).
Here’s Cotton’s statement:
It’s simply wrong to call the president’s executive order concerning immigration and refugees ‘a religious test’ of any kind. I doubt many Arkansans or Americans more broadly object to taking a harder look at foreigners coming into our country from war-torn nations with known terror networks; I think they’re wondering why we don’t do that already. With proper procedures for green-card holders and immigrants with a documented history of serving alongside our troops, I think most Americans support these common-sense measures. I also think it’s high time we took action to fix an ill-designed refugee program that harms Christians and other religious minorities who’ve suffered from genocide in Syria. Whatever the media and liberal politicians may say, I’m confident that, under Secretary Kelly’s leadership, these measures will help keep America safe.
Here’s Boozman’s statement:
Protecting our national security must be a top priority. Our intelligence community and citizens in communities across Arkansas and the United States lack confidence in the programs we use to vet refugees fleeing from persecution and war-torn countries like Syria. We need reasonable measures that allow us to evaluate safety checks for people coming into our country. I have great confidence in Secretary Kelly and look forward to working with him to secure our borders. This is best achieved by working with Congress and the appropriate agencies to alleviate unintended consequences.
Perhaps worth noting that while the order is not a blanket “Muslim ban” — many majority-Muslim nations, obviously, are not included in the ban — Trump consigliere Rudy Giuliani bragged that the policy was explicitly designed to get as close as possible to a Muslim ban within the bounds of the law:
I’ll tell you the whole history of it: When he first announced it, he said “Muslim ban.” He called me up, he said, “Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.”
The ACLU got a stay on Saturday blocking the enforcement of many aspects of the order as potential violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. However, numerous reports over the weekend suggest that the Trump administration and customs officials may not be fully complying with the court order. (The ACLU is expected to file a lawsuit to overturn the executive order in its entirety this week.)
The D-G this morning sought to assuage any doubts that it would be a mouthpiece for Dear Leader. Here was the chosen headline for the biggest story in the nation: “Trump aides: Few harried by travel ban.” Hmm. Rather than recount the stories and humanitarian stakes behind this harrying, I’ll just note that the Trump administration’s argument that the travel ban is okay because a relatively small number of people have been immediately and directly harmed betrays a rather flimsy vigor for protecting constitutional rights.