WASHINGTON — One by one, Georgia’s Republican members of Congress lined up behind President Donald Trump’s divisive executive order barring some Middle Eastern refugees from entering the country.
Nearly all of the dozen Republicans elected to represent the Peach State on Capitol Hill came out in favor of the executive action — or most of it — on Monday, three days after Trump first issued the directive.
“America will always be a compassionate country, and President Trump is taking action to protect all of our citizens,” said U.S. Sen. David Perdue in a statement Monday evening.
The order indefinitely blocks Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. and temporarily suspends the citizens of six other Middle Eastern countries from traveling here. All 12 GOP congressmen endorsed Trump ahead of the election.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson was the only Republican to express some reservations about Trump’s plan. While the three-term senator said it was “wise” of the president to secure the country’s borders and fulfill his campaign promises, he said the president should have done more ahead of the policy announcement, including consult with Congress and the people tasked with carrying out the order.
“I think they need to clarify the confusion that’s out there on greencards and things like that,” Isakson said in an interview Monday. “The people who are actually on the ground need to know exactly what it is they’re doing.”
In a statement his office issued later Monday, Isakson also said the country “should continue to be welcoming to refugees who are fleeing war and persecution and who share America’s ideals and values.”
U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, a centrist who tends to swing to the right on national security matters, notably did not denounce Trump’s plan. He said Congress should focus on funding the national security infrastructure to process refugees, students and high tech workers who want to come to the U.S.
“While we must increase scrutiny of those from regions where terrorists seek to enter the U.S. and do us harm, we in Congress must step up to the plate quickly and do our part by allocating sufficient resources to establish the necessary infrastructure for this enhanced vetting at our airports and other points of entry,” Scott said.
Signed on Friday afternoon, the order has drawn scorn from most Democrats, immigrant and civil rights groups. It quickly created chaos across the globe and in Atlanta as scores of refugees were detained at airports, including 11 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. A federal judge’s order temporarily prevented the government from deporting some arrivals.
Most members of Georgia’s 16-man congressional delegation kept quiet about the order over the weekend. We’ve reached out for comment and will update this post as we hear more in the days ahead.
U.S. Sen. David Perdue: “We are at war with ISIS and our previous president refused to put a plan in place to deal with this threat. We know terrorist groups have identified our country’s refugee system as a weakness and have purposed to exploit this program to their advantage. The first responsibility of any American President is to protect American citizens. This temporary pause will allow DHS to ensure the vetting process is improved. America will always be a compassionate country, and President Trump is taking action to protect all of our citizens.”
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler: “In the world we currently live in, it is smart and necessary to put in place the most robust national security vetting process ever to know exactly who is entering our country so we can continue to welcome those who believe in America’s freedom and share our values.”
U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point: “The first job of the federal government is to keep its citizens safe. Georgians and Americans everywhere deserve to be safe in their communities. Given the growing number of threats around the world, increased awareness and effective policy to address these threats is warranted.”
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton: “Immigrants, refugees, and countries of origin should be vetted on a thorough, case-by-case basis. It is my hope that this temporary stay gives President Trump’s team time to coordinate with Congress to review the vetting process and figure out how to best protect American citizens. Any reforms to our vetting process or assessments of our refugee and immigration policies will require a total effort between all branches of government to get it right.”
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville: “It is possible to welcome refugees to our country while maintaining robust national security measures, and it is time to restore balance to this relationship by evaluating our entry processes in light of credible threats to our citizens … In this temporary measure, President Trump has given us the opportunity to get refugee policy right going forward.”
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe: “It has been well-established by the U.S. intelligence community that the strategy of radical Islamic terror groups is to hide operatives among refugees from the Middle East and North Africa entering Western countries. While we welcome refugees, I believe that the fundamental responsibility of the federal government is to provide for the common defense, including ensuring those who reach our shores are first fully vetted through a reliable screening process.”
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassvile: “He’s just taking the step to ensure that we have proper vetting for anyone coming to the U.S. from these countries … With Syria, how do you vet somebody who is coming from a country that’s in the midst of a civil war who has no documentation? You can’t do it. It’s impossible.” (Hat tip to our colleagues in the Cox Washington bureau)
U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans: “First and foremost we must protect our homeland– the executive order does that– and keeps Americans safe until we can reform our visa process and the vetting of refugees.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger: “A temporary pause in admitting people to the U.S. from countries initially flagged by the Obama administration as terrorist hotspots is prudent. This pause is an opportunity to examine and strengthen the vetting process to ensure we are doing all we can to keep the American people safe. I am glad that the Secretary of Homeland Security made it absolutely clear that this action is not meant to target immigrants who have become lawful permanent residents of our country.”
Support with some reservations:
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson: “President Trump and his administration have been taking steps to fulfill his campaign promises, and he’s right that we need to strengthen our national security and improve the vetting process for people coming into our country. Unfortunately, some important aspects of the process to ensure that this temporary travel ban could be implemented smoothly were overlooked. I hope that President Trump will consult with the national security team he has assembled with the advice and consent of the Senate, so that security measures are properly implemented and do not infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. I also believe that America should continue to be welcoming to refugees who are fleeing war and persecution and who share America’s ideals and values.”
U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta: “My highest priority as a Member of Congress is to ensure the safety of our American people. While we must increase scrutiny of those from regions where terrorists seek to enter the U.S. and do us harm, we in Congress must step up to the plate quickly and do our part by allocating sufficient resources to establish the necessary infrastructure for this enhanced vetting at our airports and other points of entry…. And for those who already hold visas and green cards and have passed screening and have a legal right to enter the U.S., we should honor the commitments made to them and they should not be subjected to delays and detainment when arriving on our shores.”
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D–Albany: “The President’s Executive Order creating a travel ban is overbroad and impractical, as we saw at airports all over the world this weekend … I urge the administration to rethink this Executive Order, and I stand committed to work with my colleagues in Congress to implement solutions that will make our country safer while remaining consistent with our values as a nation of immigrants.”
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia: “The executive order is an insult to the fundamental values of our Constitution and the history of this country. This executive order is not based in sound national security policy and will instead embolden our enemies.Refugees to the U.S. are currently the most vetted travelers to the United States and in fact, a pause of the refugee program is dangerous to U.S. national security interests. There is no evidence that disruption of the refugee program or detaining legal residents is necessary.”
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta: “People immigrate to America because they are inspired by our commitment to justice and democracy. To treat as strangers these law-abiding immigrants, to whom we as a nation have seen fit to grant permanent status, is a stain on the integrity of our country and threatens the democratic principles this nation stands for. This is a dark hour for America. We must all be vigilant in this time and work persistently without ceasing to ensure that fairness, freedom, and justice prevail in the United States of America.”
No Georgia Republicans that we know of have joined the roughly 50 GOP lawmakers who have voiced major reservations or flatly opposed the policy.
Republican U.S. Reps. Tom Price of Roswell and Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville.