Photo by Saiyna Bashir, The Capital Times

State political reaction to President Trump’s new immigration restrictions is generally falling along party lines.

Republicans generally supported Trump’s executive order and said calling it a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants is inaccurate. New U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, however, noted he had some concerns with how Trump implemented the order.

Gov. Scott Walker also weighed in, calling it a “safety issue.” Walker in 2015 called for a halt to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Wisconsin and last year sent a letter to the incoming Trump administration seeking to give states more authority over how many refugees can come in from countries with ties to terrorism.

“A resettlement program to help refugees is compassionate and one that I support, but we should ensure we are doing everything possible to put the safety of our citizens first,” he said.

Trump on Friday signed an executive order that, among other things, bans entry by travelers from seven countries for 90 days, bans Syrian refugees from entering indefinitely and suspends refugee admissions for 120 days while the U.S. conducts a review.

U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy and Glenn Grothman said Trump’s executive order follows through on his campaign pledges.

Duffy, R-Wausau, said in a statement that terrorist groups “openly exploit the West’s refugee programs to incite or carry out acts of terrorism.”

“We deserve to know who enters or leaves our country, as well as their intent,” he said. “President Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise to re-evaluate our visa vetting process so that the American people are safe from terrorism.”

Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, took a similar tone and said Trump is “right to exercise some long-overdue caution.” He also took issue with the order being called a “Muslim ban,” saying it boosts the vetting process “for those coming from areas of intensified conflict and with known terror groups attempting to infiltrate the U.S. through our refugee program.”

“This temporary ban allows the government time to review and update screening requirements to keep our citizens safe — something that has become increasingly important as acts of terror happen more and more across the world.” he said.

Gallagher, R-Green Bay, said the issue “could have been better handled” by the Trump administration.

Gallagher said “enhancing our vetting and visa admissions processes is prudent,” though he said the administration should have coordinated with Congress. Gallagher, a Marine veteran, said that would’ve helped to make sure “those who fought with us in Iraq” wouldn’t be affected, as well as those who have permanent resident status.

“It is important to note this temporary measure does not amount to a blanket ban based on religion, nor would such a measure be effective,” he said. “As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I will be conducting an in-depth review of this executive order and our broader efforts to keep the country safe from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism in the days and weeks ahead.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner addressed the issue in a news release after he held a town hall meeting Saturday.

Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said the executive order lets the government make sure sufficient screening procedures are in place. He also said it wasn’t about religious affiliation and that he would “never support a blanket ban on any religious group.”

Sensenbrenner faced questions after he indicated at the town hall meeting that he supported the ban applying to legal permanent residents, as there was confusion initially on whether that was the case. Sensenbrenner said he misspoke and that he doesn’t believe “it is right to ban green card holders from entering the United States absent evidence of a threat, regardless of where they are from.”

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson did not respond to a request for comment.

Dems continued their criticisms today, with U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore calling the executive order “repulsive and in direct contradiction to the values that define our nation.”

“Such abominable efforts have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with satisfying campaign promises to the alt-right movement,” the Milwaukee Dem said. “These anti-American actions have no place in our culture and are indicative of the overwhelming influence of nationalism that continues to permeate this administration and its policies.”

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, said the country “cannot start discriminating based on religion,” adding that the policy will “jeopardize our national security by giving ISIS and other terror groups another recruitment tool.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, lauded the nationwide protests over the issue and said his office will help those who face problems. Trump, he said, is “attempting to jam his divisive campaign trail rhetoric into policies which ignore the public, the Constitution and Congress.”

And U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin tweeted her opposition to the executive order throughout the weekend, saying she was “sickened” by it and that it’s “not what Wisconsin or America stands for–rescind now.”

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