Both of Maine’s U.S. senators said Saturday that President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on immigration from seven Islamic countries is off the mark.
“The worldwide refugee ban set forth in the executive order is overly broad and implementing it will be immediately problematic,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican.
She said, for example, “it could interfere with the immigration of Iraqis who worked for American forces in Iraq as translators and bodyguards — people who literally saved the lives of our troops and diplomats during the last decade and whose lives are at risk if they remain in Iraq.
Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King believes the administration’s actions “don’t protect us, but actually compromise our nation’s security,” said Scott Ogden, his spokesman.
The president’s orders “only isolate America from our allies, marginalize this country’s Muslim population who are often the source for information that helps prevent terrorism, and is inconsistent with who we are as a country,” Ogden said. “Worse, this order, which focuses exclusively upon majority Muslim countries, plays right into the hands of ISIS, which has been trying for years to bait us into converting our opposition to their isolated brand of radical terrorism into a war of America against the entire Muslim world.”
“Unfortunately, President Trump has taken the bait — and the fight against ISIS just got a lot harder,” he said.
Trump suspended entry of all refugees for 120 days. He also barred any refugees from Syria indefinitely and imposed a 90-day ban for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Collins said that “while it is appropriate to consider religious persecution when reviewing a request for refugee status, a preference should not be given to people who practice a particular religion, nor should a greater burden be imposed on people who practice a particular religion. “
“As I stated last summer, religious tests serve no useful purpose in the immigration process and run contrary to our American values,” she said.
Collins also pointed out that the U.S. “remains the largest contributor of humanitarian aid to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, and we should continue to aid those who are assisting refugees in neighboring countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.”
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, said that during the past week, Trump “has struck terror in the hearts of communities throughout Maine which are strengthened by immigrants and refugees.”
Pingree said Trump demonstrated a lack of understanding of American history with his executive orders on immigration.
Maine’s other congressman, Republican Bruce Poliquin, did not take a stand.
“The Congressman will not be voting on these executive orders,” said spokesman Brendan Conley. “His policy in Congress has been to increase border security, end sanctuary cities and stop Syrian refugee admissions until national security agencies put in place effective processes to ensure that no suspected or potential terrorists are allowed to cross our borders.”
Attorneys general condemn ban
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills joined attorneys general from 14 other states and the District of Columbia in condemning Trump’s immigration executive order as protests continued across the country Sunday.
Mills, a Democrat, signed the statement predicting the order will not survive court challenges and pledging to “use all of the tools of our offices to fight this unconstitutional order and preserve our nation’s national security.”
The other attorneys general are from New York, California, Pennsylvania, Washington, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Virginia, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Vermont, Illinois, New Mexico, Iowa and Maryland signed the statement.
The statement, released from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, reads, “As the chief legal officers for over 130 million Americans and foreign residents of our states, we condemn President Trump’s unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful Executive Order and will work together to ensure the federal government obeys the Constitution, respects our history as a nation of immigrants, and does not unlawfully target anyone because of their national origin or faith.
“Religious liberty has been, and always will be, a bedrock principle of our country and no president can change that truth.
“Yesterday, multiple federal courts ordered a stay of the Administration’s dangerous Executive Order. We applaud those decisions and will use all of the tools of our offices to fight this unconstitutional order and preserve our nation’s national security and core values.
“We are confident that the Executive Order will ultimately be struck down by the courts. In the meantime, we are committed to working to ensure that as few people as possible suffer from the chaotic situation that it has created.”
On Sunday Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham said Trump’s order may do more to help recruit terrorists than improve U.S. security.
“Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism,” they said in a statement, adding that the United States should not stop green card holders “from returning to the country they call home.”
“This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security,” said McCain, of Arizona, and Graham, of South Carolina.
Susan Cornwell of Reuters and Portland TV station WGME CBS 13 contributed to this report.