BOISE — Idaho’s all-Republican congressional delegation have released statements generally supportive of President Donald Trump’s executive order putting a temporary halt on the refugee program and travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, although some criticized its implementation.
“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,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, whose district includes the Magic Valley. “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.”
“During town meetings I held across my state, Idahoans affirmed that we must take steps to secure our borders and I agree,” said U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo. “We will need to constantly refine and improve our vetting process.”
Trump spoke frequently of the dangers posed by Muslim refugees during the campaign — at one point he called for a ban on Muslims entering the country but has since walked that back. He also ran on a promise to tighten immigration laws and their enforcement.
On Friday, the president signed an executive order that suspends refugee resettlement for four months while changes are made to the vetting process, bans travel for three month by citizens of seven Middle Eastern and African countries and ends resettlement of Syrian refugees indefinitely.
Opponents of Trump’s actions held protests at airports across the country over the weekend, including one at the Boise Airport that drew hundreds of people. Some congressional Republicans have also come out against the order, including widely known Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
U.S Rep. Raul Labrador, whose district covers the western part of the state, said Trump “has finally taken necessary national security and public safety measures regarding refugees and non-immigrants seeking entry,” and criticized the media for characterizing Trump’s actions as a “Muslim ban,” accusing them of trying to mislead the public and undermine Trump.
“The ban is temporary and does not exclude any particular group based on religion,” Labrador said.
However, Labrador criticized the administration for failing to provide guidance on how to enforce the order and urged the president to exempt lawful permanent residents, which Trump has done subsequently after the initial confusion.
“Inadequate review and poor implementation of this executive action threatens to undermine otherwise sound policy,” Labrador said. “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.”
Labrador sponsored a bill in the last Congress that would have altered the refugee program, and some of the ideas in Trump’s executive order — reducing the number of refugees to be allowed in, giving states and communities more of a say in the program, tightening the vetting process and prioritizing some claims of religious persecution — are similar to what was in Labrador’s bill.
U.S. Sen. Jim Risch told the Idaho Statesman on Sunday, through his spokeswoman Kaylin Minton, that he believes the existing vetting process has been inadequate in many cases but that a comment at this time would be premature.
“Sen. Risch believes the security of America and Americans is of the utmost importance,” she said. “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, Sen. 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.”