Republican opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting Muslims and refugees gathered pace on Sunday as Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) attacked the haste with which the order was done and its possible repercussions.
“It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted,” they said Sunday in a joint 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.”
They went on to defend the United States’ role as a leader in welcoming immigrants and refugees.
“We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home,” they said. “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. 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.”
They also warned that this order could end up being “a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism” since it would ban Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in the U.S.
“This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country,” they said. “That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
In a series of tweets published on Sunday afternoon, President Trump Graham and McCain for their statement. “They are sadly weak on immigration,” the president said.
The order bans Syrians from taking refuge in the United States, halts the U.S. refugee resettlement program for four months and temporarily blocks people from a handful of countries from entering the U.S. at all.
Several people were detained in airports across the country beginning Friday evening. Some, including an Iraqi interpreter who devoted 10 years of his life to serving the U.S., were eventually released.