Idaho’s federal lawmakers conditionally defended or demurred on the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Friday that curtails immigration from seven Muslim countries, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days, and indefinitely bars all refugees from Syria.
The order got strong backing from Gov. Butch Otter; other state-level GOP officials so far have tempered their support or declined to say how they feel.
Rep. Raúl Labrador: The congressman said the administration “could have done a better job” of implementing the order and “failed to provide clear guidance on the policy.” He also said the media have falsely characterized the order as a “ban on Muslims” and did so intentionally “to mislead the public and to undermine the President’s agenda.” His full statement:
“Congress has identified significant flaws with the vetting process for those seeking entry into the United States. The prior administration failed to adequately address security concerns. President Trump has finally taken necessary national security and public safety measures regarding refugees and non-immigrants seeking entry. The media’s mischaracterization of the order as a ‘ban on Muslims’ is not only false, it is intentionally designed to mislead the public and to undermine the President’s agenda. The ban is temporary and does not exclude any particular group based on religion.
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I urge the Administration to revisit the order’s applicability to legal permanent residents of the United States, and exercise great care before taking future action.
Rep. Raúl Labrador
“The President of the United States has sweeping powers to suspend the entry into the United States of aliens if their entry is detrimental to the interests of the United States. The Administration, however, could have done a better job of implementing this executive order. They failed to provide clear guidance on the policy which caused substantial confusion at the ports of entry. I urge the Administration to revisit the order’s applicability to legal permanent residents of the United States, and exercise great care before taking future action. Inadequate review and poor implementation of this executive action threatens to undermine otherwise sound policy. I remain a strong supporter of President Trump’s bold efforts to keep America safe, but they must be legally sound and uniformly enforced. I look forward to working with the President on these issues.”
Sen. Jim Risch, through communications director Kaylin Minton, cited the order’s “many moving parts” in saying that comment would be “premature.” The full comment:
“Senator Risch believes the security of America and Americans is of the upmost importance. Since the order was issued just this past Friday, and there is much speculation about specifics of the President’s action, and many moving parts, Senator Risch is gathering and reviewing information from a number of sources and will learn more when he returns to Washington, D.C. for briefings this week. A comment at this time would be premature.
“Senator Risch has consistently said that, in many cases, the US vetting process for many areas of the world has been inadequate and does not ensure the safety of all Americans.”
Sunday night, Sen. Mike Crapo issued a brief statement that said the U.S. needed to “constantly refine and improve our vetting process.” He amplified it Monday, adding that the order as implemented had “unintended consquences” for some legal immigrants.
“I fully agree with the President’s intention to improve security at our borders and more fully vet those entering our country. That said, the way this order is implemented in the coming days and weeks may change as we’ve already seen unintended consequences for holders of legal green cards and others who were initially detained. I respect the differing viewpoints on Idahoans on the issue and ask for patience as we work through the plans needed to ensure our long-term safety.”
Monday, Rep. Mike Simpson released comments somewhat similar to Labrador’s:
“The President is fulfilling his duty and promise to evaluate the screening process for those attempting to enter our country to ensure that these individuals are indeed safe and pose no threat to us. However, the Administration could have and should have disseminated the details and enforcement guidelines of the Executive Order in a more effective manner to minimize the unintended consequences of this change in policy. I am glad to see that the Administration has already taken steps to clarify these guidelines, and I hope all other errors in implementation of this order will be immediately addressed.”
And Idaho Gov. Butch Otter put the “consternation” around Trump’s order down to “the fact that we have been far too lax in enforcing our immigration laws.”
“President Trump’s executive order is consistent with my stated desire for improved vetting of refugees entering the United States. Going forward, I hope the President adopts a requirement for consultation with governors before refugees are located in any states. However, delaying the executive order for congressional and public review would have undermined its effectiveness. It is important for the President to keep his commitment to provide better screening of refugees. Much of the consternation surrounding his actions stems from the fact that we have been far too lax in enforcing our immigration laws and setting refugee admission standards. That must change. This order begins that process.”
Attorney General Lawrence Wasden was limited in his comment, calling the matter a “federal issue.”
“Congress has the power to make immigration and naturalization laws. It's the President's duty to execute those laws.”
Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said there was “no question” about the need for vetting immigrants but said the U.S. “can’t turn our back on the international community.”
“We need to make sure that immigrants including refugees are well vetted. There’s no question about that. Should it take 120 days to get to that point? I don’t know, because I’m not involved in the process. I’m hoping that (the president) comes back in 90 days or 60 days and says we’ve got that vetting process in place.
“We can’t turn our back on the international community, but we do have to be concerned about the safety of our citizens. I think there is a path forward for that where we can be compassionate, we can be sensitive to the suffering of people in other nations while taking care of our own people.”
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said the president “has everyone’s attention now” but said the order, as reported in the media, “would seem to be a little harsh.”
“I think that the president’s first job is to be concerned about the security of the United States and its citizens, so this was a tough call on his part, but you have to start somewhere, and I think that he has everyone’s attention now.
“I believe that we should have a viable refugee program, but we also should know what we’re bringing into the country. And I think that if we err, then we should err on the side of national security. Having said that, I would agree that it would seem to be a little harsh, at least as portrayed in the media. I assume that the truth is somewhere in the middle.”
House Democratic Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, called the order “short-sighted” and poorly thought out.
“I think it was a short-sighted executive order that had extreme consequences. It’s a sign of somebody who’s in office and did not think of the broad consequences and economic consequences of an order like that.”
Here are reactions from other lawmakers.