Members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation were united in their support Monday for President Trump’s ban on travel from seven majority Muslim nations, saying the order isn’t a Muslim ban.
Among those supporting Trump’s executive order is U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-4th District, who criticized then-candidate Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States as “un-American” in 2015.
Cole said in a statement Monday that Trump “is acting within the law.” However, he was among several delegation members who criticized the haphazard way in which the policy was implemented.
The Frontier requested comment from all seven members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation on the executive order, which prompted massive demonstrations at airports nationwide over the weekend.
All but one member, Rep. Steve Russell, R-5th District, had issued written statements by late Monday afternoon. A spokesman for Russell responded to The Frontier, stating the congressman had not issued an official statement but may give an interview to News9, The Frontier’s media partner.
In statements Monday, Cole and other members of the delegation claimed that Trump’s executive order was not a ban on Muslims. However, in an interview Friday, Trump said his order banning travel from seven majority Muslim nations gives preference to Christians.
The executive order resulted in dozens of travelers being detained for hours at airports, sent back to their countries of origin or prevented from boarding planes to the United States.
Federal judges in four states blocked portions of the executive order, saying that refugees could not be returned to their home countries or be detained at airports.
The Frontier attempted to leave messages for senators Lankford and Inhofe over the weekend. The voicemail boxes for both senators’ Washington, D.C. offices were full.
Daisy Letendre, a spokeswoman for Inhofe, said the phone issue is a “Senate-wide problem.” However, voicemail boxes were full at all four of Inhofe’s Oklahoma offices also.
Letendre said hearing from constituents was important to Inhofe.
Here are the entire statements of six members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation:
Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-1st District: “President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration is simply a pause, similar to ones issued by previous presidents including Mr. Obama. The temporary pause affects only seven terror prone countries so we can better vet people coming into the United States. The goal is to balance security with access. There is no ban on any religion.”
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-2nd District: “First and foremost, we have a duty to protect our U.S. citizens and this great country. Until we can do that with certainty, a lawful pause, much like President Obama’s pause of Iraqis in 2011, allows for a thoughtful review of our vetting process to ensure those determined to bring harm to our country are identified. This executive order isn’t intended to keep people out, it’s intended to keep people safe.”
Rep. Tom Cole, R-4th District: “President Trump’s recent executive order temporarily prohibiting immigration from seven countries previously identified as terrorist havens and/or state sponsors of terrorism is clearly intended to protect the American people,” said Cole. “The threat it seeks to contain is real. Indeed ISIL/ISIS has said it intends to slip terrorists into fleeing refugee populations and appears to have done so in the past.
“However imperfect or uneven the initial implementation of President Trump’s order, the reaction against it has been all out of proportion to its intent and impact,” continued Cole. “Critics have described the order as a Muslim ban. It is not. It does not impact over 40 Muslim-majority countries. Some have claimed the order is illegal. It is not. While the courts will ultimately rule on this matter, it appears that the President is acting within the law and the recognized powers of the presidency. Some say the order is unprecedented. It is not. President Obama issued a similar “pause” on immigration from Iraq in 2011, while more intensive methods of vetting were devised and implemented to screen immigrants from that terror infested country. Finally, some have said the threat from these areas is minor. It is not. Indeed US forces are currently engaged in fighting terrorists in at least three of the countries in question – Iraq, Syria and Yemen.”
“It is fair and appropriate to debate the merits of President Trump’s executive order and its initial implementation. But it is inappropriate to engage in demagogic, inflammatory, inaccurate and reckless rhetoric that is designed to create and exploit a political issue rather than address a real threat to our security. I fear that is exactly what we are seeing from many of the President’s critics.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.: “President Trump’s executive order follows through on the promises made on the campaign trail to secure our country and protect our citizens,” Inhofe said. “This is not a Muslim ban, as the measure suspends all refugee admittance for 120 days and suspends the issuance of visas to nationals of seven specific countries for 90 days. Time and again terrorists have stated their intent to infiltrate refugee populations in order to spread their ideology and terror throughout the West, as has already happened in Europe. Furthermore, the pause on visa applicants for countries that Congress and the Departments of State and Homeland Security have determined as areas of concern to national security is reasonable given the unrest and state of instability in each of those countries. President Trump’s measures are temporary and will allow for the new administration to review and strengthen our immigration programs. The administration should have delayed implementation of this order so that the agencies, airlines and foreign travelers could have prepared and made arrangements in compliance, but I am confident these issues will be addressed swiftly to reduce confusion and uncertainty. The Trump administration is comprised of well-respected experts, and it is imperative that Senate Democrats immediately allow for the confirmation of his cabinet picks so that the President’s policies are well implemented. Throughout its history, the United States has been a beacon around the world for religious freedom and has welcomed those seeking refuge from persecution; our country will continue to be that beacon.”
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.: “As leaders, we have a responsibility to secure the homeland. The executive action issued Friday is a 90-day pause and reevaluation of the screening process for individuals traveling from seven war-torn nations and a 120-day pause for the refugee resettlement program. It is not a ban on Muslims or a permanent change in immigration policy. This executive action has some unintended consequences that were not well thought out. I encourage the president’s staff to evaluate American policy with an eye on both security and compassion for the refugees fleeing the terrors of war and persecution. For decades, our resettlement program has maintained a very extensive multi-year screening process for refugees from all over the world. There are unique challenges when you accept refugees from countries like Syria and Yemen, but American security and intelligence communities are second to none. America can have strong homeland security and uphold our foundational values of religious freedom and refuge for the persecuted. These goals are not mutually exclusive. We should also encourage, not discourage, people who have gone through the legal visa and immigration process. America has always welcomed people from different walks of life, religions and countries, and we should continue doing so.”