Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Ben Sasse differed on President Donald Trump's refugee executive order that spurred protests at four airports across the nation Saturday and left 11 detainees from majority-Muslims in federal custody after trying to re-enter the United States.
"Our number one responsibility is to protect the homeland," said Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman. "We are a compassionate nation, and I support the refugee resettlement program, but it’s time to reevaluate and strengthen the visa vetting process.
"This is why we passed bipartisan legislation in the wake of the Paris attacks to pause the intake of refugees. President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country."
Sasse, the Nebraska legislator who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Saturday that while "the president is right to focus attention on the obvious fact that borders matter," the refugee order "is too broad."
He added that it was "not technically a Muslim ban."
"There are two ways to lose our generational battle against jihadism by losing touch with reality," Sasse continued. "The first is to keep pretending that jihadi terrorism has no connection to Islam or to certain countries. That’s been a disaster."
"And here's the second way to fail: If we send a signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and that this is America versus one religion," Sasse said.
"Both approaches are wrong, and both will make us less safe," he added. "Our generational fight against jihadism requires wisdom."
President Trump's directive, signed Friday, banned travelers from seven countries that have been linked by national security officials to terrorism from entering the country for 90 days: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
It also suspended entry of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely halted all admissions from Syria.
Twelve travelers from Iraq were detained Friday as they tried to enter the country at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. One was released Saturday afternoon.
Protesters crowded JFK and airports in Chicago, Denver and Virginia against the order, according to news reports, and Democratic legislators vowed to challenge the White House in court.
Other conservatives spoke out on Twitter:
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