Pennsylvania's Republican Sen. Pat Toomey says President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration was too broad and poorly explained.
In his first public comments on it, Toomey on Monday also reserved judgment on whether the order properly balances defending Americans against terrorism and giving safe haven to refugees.
He suggests that'll depend on how the administration enforces it, and says it's fortunate the Trump administration clarified that the order doesn't apply to green-card holders and that exceptions can be granted. [[412059543, C]]
"It is crucial that our nation strike the right balance between defending our people against the deadly threat of international terrorism and providing a safe haven for innocent refugees seeking peace and freedom," said Toomey in a statement released Monday morning.
"I support the administration's decision to increase vetting and temporarily suspend the admission of certain individuals from states that sponsor or provide safe havens to terrorists, or are too weak to prosecute terrorists within their borders. Terrorists have successfully infiltrated refugee populations entering Europe and gone on to commit heinous acts of barbarity. I have long been concerned about our ability to distinguish between predominantly peaceful and innocent refugees, and the likely rare, but lethal, terrorists in the midst of those refugees coming from terror havens and lawless lands. That is why I, along with a bipartisan majority of the House and Senate, supported the SAFE Act, which called for enhanced vetting.
"Unfortunately, the initial executive order was flawed – it was too broad and poorly explained. This apparently resulted in denied entry into the United States for lawful permanent residents and others who should have been allowed immediate entry. Fortunately, the administration has clarified that this order does not apply to Green Card holders and that the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security have the ability to grant exceptions which certainly should apply to, among others, foreign nationals who served the U.S. military in various support roles.
"I look forward to learning more about how the administration intends to enforce this executive order, to determine whether it indeed strikes the appropriate balance between defending our nation and maintaining our ability to provide a safe haven for persecuted individuals."
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Toomey's office also said its doing all it can to hear from Pennsylvanians about the travel ban issue.
"There is a lot going on in Washington right now," said Toomey spokesman Steve Kelly. "As such, many Pennsylvanians are calling to make their voices heard on a myriad of issues. Senator Toomey’s staff in Pennsylvania -- 25 people in seven offices across the state -- are doing everything they can to answer as many calls as possible while also attending to other responsibilities, such as helping veterans and senior citizens get their benefits and representing the Senator at many community events."
Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania criticized Trump's order as contrary to American values and security. He says it appears driven by politics and discrimination, not by recommendations from national security professionals.
Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro are also heavily critical of Trump's order. [[238427591, C]]