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House Speaker Paul Ryan addressed questions Tuesday about President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel and refugee resettlement to the US from citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, calling the rollout of the statute “regrettable” while insisting the merits of it were appropriate.
“So first off, I had a long talk with Secretary Kelly yesterday, and I’m very pleased and confident that he is, on a going-forward basis, going to make sure that things are done correctly,” Ryan said at House Republicans’ weekly news conference, referring to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
“Look, the president has a responsibility to the security of this country,” Ryan added.
The executive order bars for 90 days people from Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya – all countries identified by former President Barack Obama’s administration as terror hotspots – from entering the US. It also bars all refugees for 120 days, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely.
The order was interpreted to include barring those who are legal permanent residents in the US, known as green-card holders. It led to widespread confusion at major airports over the weekend and legal permanent residents being detained. On Sunday, Kelly ordered green-card holders from the countries to be allowed into the US.
Federal judges in four states issued a temporary stay on Saturday preventing authorities from deporting travelers who were stuck in airports because of the order, but the long-term legality of the measure remains unclear.
“I think it’s regrettable that there was confusion on the rollout of this,” Ryan said on Tuesday. “No one wanted to see people with green cards or special immigrant visas, like translators, get caught up in this. And so I think – regrettably, the rollout was confusing. But on a go-forward basis, I’m confident that Secretary Kelly is going to make sure that this is done correctly.”
“I had a very good conversation with Secretary Kelly to make sure that we separate fact from myth,” he continued. “Clearly, none of us want to see people with green cards get implicated in this.”
Ryan said the “rhetoric surrounding” the executive order “could be used as a recruiting tool” by terror organizations such as ISIS. “I think that’s dangerous,” he said.
But Ryan also said the pause was necessary from a security standpoint.
“We need to pause, and we need to make sure that the vetting standards are up to snuff so we can guarantee the safety and security of our country,” he said. “That is what this does. We want that goal to be achieved.”
“I support the refugee resettlement program,” he said. “We’re a generous country. It’s important. But we can be generous and watch our national security at the same time. That’s why I’m confident that Secretary Kelly, along with other Cabinet members, are going to make sure that we have the proper review and vetting.”