Arkansas's Congressional Delegation Generally Supportive Of Trump's Immigration Ban

Jan 30, 2017

File photo: Then U.S. Representative Tom Cotton (R-4th District) at the Clinton School of Public Service (2013).
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas’s Congressional delegation is generally supportive of President Donald Trump’s order on immigration. However, they called for clarifying the position for two groups: green card holders and immigrants with a history service to the U.S. military.

Senator Tom Cotton first reacted to the President’s move on Twitter. He said the characterization of the executive order as a “Muslim ban” amounts to “fake news.”

The state’s junior Senator, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, followed up with a statement on Sunday.

“It's simply wrong to call the president’s executive order concerning immigration and refugees ‘a religious test’ of any kind. I doubt many Arkansans or Americans more broadly object to taking a harder look at foreigners coming into our country from war-torn nations with known terror networks; I think they’re wondering why we don’t do that already. With proper procedures for green-card holders and immigrants with a documented history of serving alongside our troops, I think most Americans support these common-sense measures. I also think it’s high time we took action to fix an ill-designed refugee program that harms Christians and other religious minorities who've suffered from genocide in Syria. Whatever the media and liberal politicians may say, I’m confident that, under Secretary Kelly’s leadership, these measures will help keep America safe.”

Arkansas’s senior U.S. Senator John Boozman told the Associated Press he supports “reasonable measures” for vetting those coming into the U.S. He said he intends to work with the secretary of Homeland Security to further develop a plan.

"Protecting our national security must be a top priority. Our intelligence community and citizens in communities across Arkansas and the United States lack confidence in the programs we use to vet refugees fleeing from persecution and war-torn countries like Syria. We need reasonable measures that allow us to evaluate safety checks for people coming into our country. I have great confidence in Secretary Kelly and look forward to working with him to secure our borders. This is best achieved by working with Congress and the appropriate agencies to alleviate unintended consequences."

While no members of the state’s six member, all-Republican delegation have called for the order to be reversed, Congressman Rick Crawford (1st District) and Steve Womack (3rd District) suggested there’s room for refinement.

Crawford posted a statement on Facebook late Sunday night. He specified that green card holders and those who assisted the U.S. military should be allowed in the country while those seeking refuge deserve tougher scrutiny.

“In our own neighborhoods, we don’t lock our doors because we dislike the people who live outside, we lock our doors because we love those who are inside. The same is true on the international stage. Green card holders and aides of the U.S. military should be allowed entry, but refugees from countries with very active threat networks deserve additional scrutiny, period. Trump’s executive order on refugees from 7 unstable nations is a temporary security measure designed to keep our nation safer, which is the role of our federal government above everything else.”

U.S. Rep. Womack also took to Facebook to give a statement. He too called for re-consideration of some of the executive order’s provisions. Womack said he supports admission to the country to some of those banned under the President’s order.

“I support the permanent residents who are legally in our country, as well as those individuals who supported our warfighters abroad through interpretation and other vital services to fight the war on terror. I have also consistently supported increased scrutiny of immigrants from areas of the world that are hotbeds of terrorist activity. My colleagues and I will be studying the exact text of President Trump's executive order, along with its implications, in classified and unclassified settings in the weeks to come. I look forward to a thoughtful partnership with the administration and am glad the President is focusing on strengthening our immigrant vetting processes.”

The AP reports hundreds of demonstrators gathered at the state Capitol building over the weekend to voice support for refugees and immigrants. Organizers put that number in the low thousands.