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In face of protests, Trump downplays effects of immigration ban

The president blames airport problems on Delta, protesters and the ‘tears of Senator Schumer.’

Updated

President Donald Trump on Monday downplayed the controversial effects of the immigration executive order he signed late last week, writing on Twitter that “there is nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country.”

Behind the president followed officials from his administration, appearing across the Monday morning news programs to defend Trump’s order against a firestorm of criticism and opposition that ignited Friday evening and built through the weekend, including from Democrats who vowed Monday to introduce legislation to repeal it.

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The order, signed and implemented Friday, put in place a temporary ban on entrance to the U.S. for individuals from seven Muslim-majority nations and an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. The president’s move prompted confusion at America’s airports and protests at international arrivals terminals nationwide. Demonstrators gathered in Washington as well, marching outside the White House and nearby at Trump’s luxury hotel.

But for all the controversy created, Trump argued that the number of people truly inconvenienced was small, a fair price to pay to make good on the national security promises he made as a candidate.

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“Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage, protesters and the tears of Senator Schumer,” Trump wrote Monday morning in a pair of posts to Twitter. “[Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly] said that all is going well with very few problems. MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!”

In a post minutes later, the president added: “There is nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country. This was a big part of my campaign. Study the world!”

“The tweet on its face is laughable,” Matt House, communications director for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said in response to Trump’s tweet mentioning Schumer. “The President’s policy, which will make us less safe, is not.”

As Trump alluded in his Monday morning social-media flurry, Schumer and an array of other Democratic lawmakers quickly flocked to international airports over the weekend, joining protesters and demanding clarity from immigration officials there.

Addressing the media in New York on Sunday, Schumer pledged to work to repeal the president’s order and teared up as he quoted the poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Trump characterized Schumer’s show of emotion as an act.

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“I noticed Chuck Schumer yesterday with fake tears. I’m going to ask him who is his acting coach. Because I know him. I don’t see him as crier,” Trump said during brief remarks to White House pool reporters on Monday. “If he is, he’s a different man. There’s about a 5 percent chance it was real. But I think they were fake tears.”

A more composed Schumer appeared Monday morning on NBC’s “Today,” where he said Trump’s order “will make us less safe” and that even those supporting the spirit of the president’s order must oppose its implementation.

“Even for those who might be for it — and I am certainly opposed — the slapdash way it was done was appalling and created the chaos,” he said. “We should repeal this.”

Other Democrats joined Schumer in opposing Trump’s executive order. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a candidate to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee and one of just two Muslim members of Congress, said Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “Religious tolerance is a core American value” that the president had broken.

While Trump’s order does not explicitly ban Muslims from entering the U.S., it targets only Muslim-majority countries and makes exceptions for people in religious minorities escaping persecution. Trump has said that those exceptions are geared toward Christians, and Ellison said Monday morning that regardless of the actual language in the order, it is “absolutely a Muslim ban.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said that realistically, his party’s best shot at undoing the president’s order would come from the courts, although Democrats planned to introduce legislation Monday evening aimed at repealing it. The U.S. has spent years pushing Islamic State militants out of occupied territory in Syria and Iraq, but Trump’s immigration order has handed the group a powerful recruiting tool, Murphy said.

“This, ultimately, is going to get Americans killed. I believe it,” he said on “Morning Joe.” “And we can make the moral argument, I think that’s important, but the national security argument probably should lead here.”

But the demonstrations, far from serving as a warning, are a good sign, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller said Monday morning. He said he was encouraged by the throngs of protesters around the country. The demonstrations, he said, are indicators that the Trump administration’s stated goal of upending Washington and altering the status quo is succeeding.

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“I think anytime you do anything hugely successful that challenges a failed orthodoxy, you’re going to see protest,” Miller said on “CBS This Morning.” “In fact, if nobody’s disagreeing with what you’re doing, then you’re probably not doing anything that really matters in the scheme of things.”

Citing the same numbers as the president had on Twitter, Miller described the protest-inducing rollout of Trump’s executive order as “efficient, orderly [and] enormously successful.” Despite the confusion over the status of green-card holders as it pertained to Trump’s order, Miller insisted that guidance from the White House never changed over the course of the weekend.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer was more willing to say the rollout had been less than smooth, although he insisted that the order had been vetted through all of the appropriate officials and agencies. Some degree of abruptness in implementation was necessary, because any announcement ahead of the order would have created a window through which people would have “flooded into the country in a short amount of time to take advantage before the ban went into effect,” Spicer said on “Morning Joe.”

“I understand that there might have been confusion, right? But, again, look at the scope of the problem and look at the fact that it lasted for a few hours as it initially was implemented and now it’s working perfectly,” he said. Those detained at American airports across the country were dealt “an inconvenience,” by Trump’s order, Spicer said, “but at the end of the day, that’s a small price to pay as opposed to somebody losing their life because a terrorist attack was committed.”

“I think we can figure out how to perform people quicker and more comprehensively once the decision has been made, but at the time, we made the best decision that was in the best interest of securing this country and our people,” Spicer continued. “Now, how we inform them as quick as we can to the highest and lowest levels, sure, we can constantly be working on that.”

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Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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