Donald Trump stands firm as senior Republicans criticise travel ban

By Philip Whiteside, News ReporterDonald Trump

TThe President’s team defends an executive order that has left hundreds in limbo, amid a growing international furore

Senior Republicans have criticised Donald Trump’s executive order banning people from seven Muslim countries from coming to the US.

Senator John McCain said the President’s order has been “confusing” and raised a number of questions.

He said the order, which has led to hundreds of people being detained at airports around the world and unable to fly, could give Islamic State propaganda material.

He told CBS’ Face the Nation programme: “It’s been a very confusing process. Will probably, in some areas, give ISIS (IS) some more propaganda.”

He asked why the ban had been extended to Iraq, where US forces are fighting alongside Iraqi troops against IS.

Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell also expressed concern, telling ABC’s This Week the Government needs “to be careful”.

He said the US should remember that some of the “best sources” in the war against terror were Muslims, both at home and abroad.

Top Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said his party would be introducing legislation to overturn what Mr Trump had put in place and Democratic state attorney generals from California and New York said they may also challenge the legality of Mr Trump’s order.

The controversial executive order for “extreme vetting” means no visas are being issued for 90 days to migrants or visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Mr Trump has defended the measure in an apparent reference to recent terror attacks across Europe

What does the travel ban entail?
He tweeted: “Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess!”

He added later: “Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!”

His order also imposed an indefinite ban on the entry of Syrian refugees as it was “detrimental to the interests of the United States”.

The ban on Syrians meant that among those refused entry was a Syrian Christian Orthodox family of six, who were turned back from Philadelphia International Airport after travelling to the United States from Lebanon, sources told Reuters.

:: Trump’s immigration ban: Stranded travellers speak of fear and dismay

A crowd of protesters gathers outside of the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse as a judge hears a challenge against President Donald Trump's executive ban on immigration from several Muslim countries, on January 28, 2017 in Brooklyn. The judge issued an emergency stay on part of Trump's executive order, ruling that sending refugees stopped at U.S. airports back to their countries would be harmful. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

The executive order was widely condemned around the world, with the Arab League chief voicing “deep concern”.

The Iraqi parliament’s foreign affairs committee said in a statement: “Iraq is in the front line of the war on terrorism … and it is unfair that the Iraqis are treated in this way.”

Some in Iraq, including hardline Shia representatives, went further, demanding the Iraqi PM expel US citizens in retaliation.

Senior politicians in several European countries also criticised the order, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Switzerland’s foreign minister.

In the UK, Theresa May ordered Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd to call their US counterparts to raise concerns.

But Mr Trump’s allies stepped in to defend him during the Sunday morning political programmes on US television.

His adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News Sunday: “You’re talking about a hundred and some who have been detained who are prevented from gaining access to aircraft in their home countries.

“They must stay for now, that’s 1%, and I think in terms of the upside being greater protection of our borders and people, it’s a small price to pay.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus added to the confusion over whether people who have green cards, which would normally give them the right to come to the US without a visa, would be allowed to enter.

In an interview with CBS News he said they would be allowed to enter, but then added that they would be subject to extra checks.

He also said it might be possible that the number of countries included in the ban would be increased, possibly to include Pakistan.

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