Key Group Of Hill GOPers Breaks With Trump On Immigration Orders

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A group of Republican lawmakers have already spoken out against President Donald Trump’s executive actions to bar immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days.

The Republicans are the same crew who spoke out early and often against Trump’s immigration screeds on the campaign trail. So far Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have stood against Trump’s actions.

The backlash against Trump has been broad and come from all corners of the Republican Party in Congress.

In a joint statement Sunday, Graham and McCain warned that Trump’s actions were little more than “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,” the statement said. “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.”

At the top of the list of concerns for McCain and Graham was the fact that they saw Trump’s executive action as being poorly vetted with little consultation or buy in from the Department of Homeland Security or the State Department.

“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,” their statement read. “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.”

But they weren’t the only senators speaking out. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) who was no fan of Trump during the election, said that Trump’s action was “too broad.”

“The President is right to focus attention on the obvious fact that borders matter. At the same time, while not technically a Muslim ban, this order is too broad,” Sasse said in a statement. “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. 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. Both approaches are wrong, and both will make us less safe. Our generational fight against jihadism requires wisdom.”

In the House, two Philadelphia-area congressmen Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who spent years in the FBI working on counterterrorism, and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), who represents a large Syrian refugee population in his district, spoke out against the order.

“This is unacceptable,” Dent told the Philadelphia Inquirer,

Typically, a party with a President in power tries to defer to the White House on matters of national security and domestic policy for at least a few months. But a handful of Republicans are already standing up to their new leader out of fear that the executive order raises serious legal questions and could hurt the U.S. effort to stop the growth of ISIS.

Flake, who is up for re-election in 2018, and has spoken out against Trump’s policies on everything from immigration to trade, took to Medium to share his frustration. Flake is a member of the Mormon Church, which has long advocated for refugee resettlement and religious freedom protections.

“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 wrote. “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.”

President Trump, however, isn’t just letting his fellow members attack his executive orders without his own pushback. Taking to twitter Sunday, Trump blasted McCain and Graham for being too soft on immigration.

Trump’s executive order also struck a chord for Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group that prides itself in abiding with the Constitution and not allowing the executive branch to have too much power.

At this point, it is still unclear how far Republicans are willing to defy Trump. Democrats are expected to introduce legislation on Monday to undo Trump’s actions. Republicans haven’t yet announced they’ll sign on or produce legislation stopping Trump themselves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.
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