Senate Republicans push back on Trump's immigration order

'I think we should slow down,' Portman says
Posted at 11:39 AM, Jan 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-29 16:12:44-05

CINCINNATI -- Senate Republicans pushed back on President Donald Trump's immigration order Sunday, with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham saying they feared it would "become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism."

"I think we should slow down," Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio, told CNN's "State of the Union."

Portman added that lawmakers "ought to be part" of the discussions about how best to tighten screening for foreigners who enter the United States.

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"I'm on the Homeland Security Committee," he said. "We’ve had plenty of testimony in the last couple of years about the fact that there is not adequate screening, particularly on the visa waiver programs. So I do think we need to tighten things up."

But Portman said he doesn't think Trump's executive action was properly reviewed before he signed it Friday.

By Saturday afternoon, protests had sprung up at airports around the country, where more than 100 visa holders were in limbo after the executive order. Even larger crowds gathered in even more cities Sunday, including a massive protest in Boston's Copley Square:

Portman cited the detention of Dr. Suha Abushamma, a Cleveland Clinic doctor and citizen of Sudan. She said she was trying to return to Ohio after a trip to Saudi Arabia and instead was put on a plane back to the Middle East, reports.

The 26-year-old is Muslim and lived in Saudi Arabia before being hired at the Clinic on a work visa.

Sending Abushamma back, Portman said, didn't make American any safer because she'd been properly vetted.

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He urged the Trump administration and Congress "to take a deep breath and come up with something that makes sense for our national security" and reflects the fact that "America's always been a welcoming home for refugees and immigrants."

"We are this beacon of hope and opportunity for the rest of the world," Portman said. "That’s our self-image, and it’s also an important part of our foreign policy."

McCain and Graham had a similar tone, releasing a statement Sunday that the United States government "should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home."

It continued: "We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children."

Watch Portman's interview below: