The president’s order banning arrivals of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspending the refugee program for four months may be wreaking havoc in airports around the world, but the commander in chief doesn’t quite see it that way. “It’s working out very nicely. You see it in the airports, you see it all over,” Trump said in brief remarks Saturday afternoon as he signed his latest spate of executive orders. “It’s working out very nicely and we are going to have a very, very strict ban and we are going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.”
As the protest continued to grow at JFK International Airport in New York and lawsuits were filed against the order that many have described as unconstitutional, Trump denied his order was a “Muslim ban.” The order suspends admission of all refugees for 120 days and prevents entry for 90 days of any citizens from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia. Backing Trump’s claims that the order was not a “Muslim ban,” many pointed out that several majority-Muslim countries, including Indonesia, were not on the list. (Others countered that the list conspicuously excluded countries in which Trump has business ties.)
Although Trump said that “we were totally prepared,” the lack of explanation about what actually was included in the order meant that officials have been scrambling all day to try to figure out what the restrictions included considering the order was much more broad than many had been expecting. It took until Saturday afternoon, for example, for a U.S. administration official to explain that green-card holders from the seven affected countries would have to be cleared on a case-by-case basis.
Lawyers representing two Iraqis have already filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s order. They were hardly alone. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has also vowed to file a lawsuit against the order, in part due to its intent to favor Christian refugees once the refugee program resumes. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he was “outraged and disappointed” at the order and vowed that his administration will “identify any and all legal steps we can take to oppose this dangerous and divisive policy.”
It wasn’t just Democrats. Several Republican lawmakers also would appear to disagree with the president’s assessment of how the implementation of his executive order is going even if they mostly fell short of actually criticizing its intent of the measure. “This is ridiculous,” said Rep. Charlie Dent.“I guess I understand what his intention is, but unfortunately the order appears to have been rushed through without full consideration. You know, the many, many nuances of immigration policy that can be life or death for many innocent, vulnerable people around the world.” Sen. Ben Sasse, meanwhile, also lightly criticized the measure calling it “too broad” because “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.”
Yet for the most part Democrats stood largely alone in strongly criticizing Trump’s order. “History will judge where America’s leaders stood today,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin.