Home / Politics / Rob Portman, Ohio senator, says executive order needs vetting as GOP splits on refugees

Rob Portman, Ohio senator, says executive order needs vetting as GOP splits on refugees

President Trump’s executive order on refugees met with a mixed reception from Republicans on Sunday, as more protests were expected at major U.S. airports.

Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican, said he supports making the visa process more secure but that the temporary order barring U.S. entry from seven Muslim-majority countries could use some vetting.

“One, it’s not a ban. However, I do think it was not properly vetted,” Mr. Portman said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “So you have an extreme vetting proposal that didn’t get the vetting it should have had, and as a result with the implementation we’ve seen some problems.”

Protests broke out Saturday at major U.S. airports, including those in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and outside Washington, D.C., as opponents denounced the order as anti-Muslim and inconsistent with American values.

So far three Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Ben Sasse of Nebraska — have criticized the order as too sweeping.

“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,” Mr. Sasse said in a statement.

The order bars entry for 90 days from natives of seven mostly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — identified under the Obama administration, while suspending all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Mr. Portman said it is time to “slow down,” citing “hysterical voices on both sides of this.”

“Let’s make two points: One, our country is not as safe as it should be. We’ve had plenty of testimony in the last couple of years about the fact that there’s not adequate screening particularly on our visa waiver programs, and so I do think we need to tighten things up,” Mr. Portman said.

“But second, we’ve got to do it in a way that’s consistent with our values and consistent with our national security,” he said. “We are this beacon of hope and opportunity for the rest of the world. That’s our self image and it’s also an important part of our foreign policy.”

Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who ran against Mr. Trump in the Republican presidential primary, said Sunday the president is “exactly right” about heightening security in response to the threat from radical Islam.

“I just think when you’re facing the threat from people who make it very clearly they want to kill us, they want to kill innocent Americans, this is part of their death culture, I just think it makes common sense to err on the side of protecting Americans,” Mr. Jindal said on “Fox & Friends.”

Some green-card holders reportedly were detained at airports on the first day under the executive order, but Mr. Jindal said the policy includes a provision allowing flexibility.

“I’m sure the administration if they need to tweak the policy going forward, they’ll do that,” Mr. Jindal said. “The policy does allow the Department of Homeland Security to make individual exemptions and waivers. The executive order clearly says, for folks that it’s good for America who pose no threat, that it’s good for America.”

Mr. Portman called for more congressional involvement.

“We ought to be a part of this. We’ve been working on this,” he said.

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