WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump late Sunday took Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John McCain (R-Arizona) to task for their criticism of his executive order and how it was implemented.
“It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted,” the senators said in the statement. “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.”
The statement said the process through which the order was implemented made for a risk of “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,” the senators said in the statement. “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.”
The senators said the order risked alienating allies and could amount to “a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.”
Trump responded that both senators were “weak on immigration.”
Trump issued a statement Sunday afternoon saying his travel ban is not a “Muslim ban” and saying the only purpose is to keep America safe.
Trump said in the statement that his executive order, which suspends the nation’s refugee program and temporarily bans those coming from countries with terrorism concerns, also is not targeting immigrants.
“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave,” Trump said in the statement. “We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say.”
Trump said his policy was “similar” to a six-month ban on refugees from Iraq that was put in place by President Barack Obama in 2011. He added that the seven countries he named in the executive order were “the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.”
“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” Trump said in the statement. “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.”
Trump added that the federal government will resume issuing visas to all countries “once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.”
Trump’s executive order bans refugees and immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia.
On Saturday, a federal judge in Brooklyn issued an order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from those nations, but the Department of Homeland Security said the order would not affect the overall implementation of the White House executive action.
The agency said the court order affected a relatively small number of travelers who were inconvenienced by security procedures upon their return.
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