WASHINGTON — While a handful of Republican senators have expressed concerns about a President Donald Trump’s travel ban, most of the president’s supporters in Congress seemed willing to back the move, including U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, who serves as chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.
Trump’s directive on Friday put a 120-day hold on allowing refugees into the country, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 90-day bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The president said he is trying to protect America from terror attacks but critics complain that it unfairly singles out Muslims and defiles America’s historic reputation as a welcoming place for immigrants.
Pittenger said the travel restriction needs to be in line with the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act that he helped co-sponsor in 2015. That legislation added the FBI to the screening process, in addition to the Department of Homeland Security, before allowing refugees to enter the country.
‘‘While we should be responsive to those who are persecuted for their faith or impacted by war, we need a thorough vetting of all refugees, consistent with the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act,” the Republican representative for Scotland County said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation required the FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security to be engaged in the refugee vetting process to prevent access by infiltrated terrorists.’’
Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Eric Tucker in Washington, Ellen Knickmeyer in San Francisco, Jeff Karoub in Detroit, and Karen Matthews, Rachel Zoll, Verena Dobnik and William Mathis in New York contributed to this report. Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acaldwellap.