Some Mich. Republicans assail Trump’s immigration order

Melissa Nann Burke, Detroit News Washington Bureau

Some Michigan Republicans criticized President Donald Trump’s immigration ban over the weekend, joining Democrats in arguing that temporarily denying entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries is unwise and unconstitutional.

Trump’s directive also suspended the entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days and to Syrian refugees indefinitely.

The director of Gov. Rick Snyder’s Michigan Department of Civil Rights said Sunday that, while the federal government has primacy over border and security issues, “every person must be judged by the content of their character, not by the country of their origin.

“When government treats entire groups of people based on its worst elements, it not only harms other members of the group, it hurts us all,” Agustin V. Arbulu said in a statement.

“It is particularly damaging in times like now, when we must work to mend our divisions, not multiply them. Relying on stereotypes instead of facts will always foster unintended consequences, like bias, hate and prejudice. It strengthens our enemies and drives away our friends.”

Royal Oak-born U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn temporarily blocked the Trump administration from deporting refugees and visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen after an emergency hearing Saturday.

Arbulu said he was encouraged that the court order would prevent anyone already legally approved to enter the country from being returned to their home nations, and hoped it would encourage the Trump administration “to reconsider the breadth of the executive order.”

The White House on Sunday clarified a portion of Trump’s order, saying that people from the seven affected countries with green cards wouldn’t necessarily be kept from returning to the U.S. from overseas.

Trump also defended his order in a statement, saying the United States will “continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border.”

“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” Trump added. “This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

Notably, Trump’s order gives preference to Christian refugees from majority-Muslim countries over other refugees. Earlier Sunday, Trump tweeted that “Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!”

Snyder, who was traveling in Israel, has not commented on Friday’s executive order, which included reducing the number of refugees admitted annually to the United States by more than half to 50,000.

“Gov. Snyder believes that legal immigration has helped build a strong and diverse talent base and culture in Michigan,” spokeswoman Ann Heaton said.

“We will work with the Trump administration on the best way forward to keep Michigan a welcoming place while ensuring the safety of all residents.”

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has supported a pause in the refugee program to ensure more thorough security checks for people from terror-prone nations, including Syria.

“This wholesale immigration into this country of people who are not properly vetted was ridiculous,” said Patterson, whose county last year resettled the most Syrian refugees of any in Michigan.

“We know there are terror groups from these countries, and our own intelligence community has said there’s no way to properly vet them. The FBI and the NSA said it (last year).”

In a series of Saturday tweets, Republican Rep. Justin Amash criticized Trump’s immigration order as overreaching and unlawful, “like Pres. Obama’s executive actions on immigration.”

“It’s not lawful to ban immigrants on basis of nationality. If the president wants to change immigration law, he must work with Congress,” Amash wrote.

Amash, who represents a district in the Grand Rapids area, said if the concern is the threats from radicalism and terrorism, “then what about Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others?”

Experts have noted that Trump did not exclude the countries of origin of radicalized Muslims who came to carry out deadly attacks on U.S. soil, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Egypt.

Amash finds Trump’s denial of entry to green-card holders, who are lawful permanent residents of the United States, “particularly troubling.”

“Green card holders live in the United States as our neighbors and serve in our Armed Forces. They deserve better,” Amash wrote.

Amash, an attorney and the son of a Syrian immigrant, also said that admitting immigrants, non-immigrants, and refugees on a “case-by-case basis” would violate the rule of law due to arbitrariness.

“Finally, we can’t effectively fight homegrown Islamic radicalism by perpetuating ‘us vs. them’ mindset that terrorists use to recruit,” Amash wrote.

“We must ensure U.S. remains dedicated to Constitution, Rule of Law, and liberty. Capitalism creates prosperity and improves assimilation.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to offer “blanket criticism” of Trump’s order.

“It’s going to be decided in the courts as to whether or not this has gone too far,” McConnell of Kentucky said on ABC’s “This Week.”

McConnell agrees with attempts to improve the vetting process, but “we also need to remember that some of our best allies in the war against Islamic terrorism are Muslims.”

Another Michigan Republican, Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, said he supports Trump’s order.

“The scenes of refugees fleeing their homes across the Middle East are absolutely heartbreaking. As a father, I feel for these families who have been ripped from their homelands. However, I understand that our first and foremost priority must be to ensure the safety of American families — our children and loved ones,” Trott said in a statement.

In a joint statement, Democratic Reps. John Conyers Jr. of Detroit, Dan Kildee of Flint Township, Debbie Dingell of Dearborn, and Brenda Lawrence of Southfield slammed Trump’s directive as a “thinly veiled ban on entry based on religion.”

“As members of Congress, we take a back seat to no one in our nation’s efforts to combat the ongoing threat of terrorism. That is why our refugee system already extensively vets and confirms every individual seeking entry to our country, subjecting them to a series of security screenings and checking against multiple law enforcement databases,” lawmakers wrote.

“But giving in to our worst fears — as this order does — will do nothing to make America safer or weaken our adversaries.”