Politics & Government

Kobach: Trump on ‘rock-solid legal footing’ with immigration order

Protesters stand in support of refugees and Muslims

About 100 people gathered Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Islamic Society in Wichita to show their support for Muslims and refugees after President Trump issued an order banning people coming from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering t
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About 100 people gathered Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at the Islamic Society in Wichita to show their support for Muslims and refugees after President Trump issued an order banning people coming from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering t

"President Trump has done more in one week to improve the security of the United States of America than Barack Obama did in eight years,” Kobach said.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Secretary of State Kris Kobach voiced strong support Monday for President Trump’s decision to prevent people from seven Muslim-majority nations from coming to the United States.

Kobach, who served on Trump’s transition team, said he was “one of many people involved” in crafting the executive order, which suspends the entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days and indefinitely blocks refugees from Syria.

“President Trump has done more in one week to improve the security of the United States of America than Barack Obama did in eight years,” Kobach said.

President Trump has done more in one week to improve the security of the United States of America than Barack Obama did in eight years.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach

The order also bars the entry of anyone from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen for 90 days. A federal judge blocked part of the order on Saturday, preventing the deportation of people who had been detained at airports.

“The president is on a rock-solid legal footing,” Kobach said.

Kobach said federal law gives the president broad authority to restrict the entry of immigrants he deems “will be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

“It’s broad authority. And there was a similar law in place going all the way back to 1789. George Washington had the Alien Act of 1789, which also gave him the authority to exclude people that posed a risk to the United States. So Trump has rock-solid legal authority. These cases are losers,” Kobach said. “Sure, you can get a temporary restraining order at the beginning, because the judge is just trying to restrain the status quo until he has time to review the law.”

Kobach said Trump chose those seven countries because they “are currently the locations where most of the terrorist recruitment and most of the terrorist exporting occurs.”

“And it may change in the future, too, because there may be in the future a different country that becomes the hotbed of terrorists,” he said.

Brownback championed the cause of Sudanese refugees as a U.S. senator but withdrew Kansas from the federal refugee resettlement program over security concerns last year. He also voiced support for Trump’s order.

I’ve said before I’m happy taking more refugees, but not from terrorist-sending countries.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback

“I’ve said before I’m happy taking more refugees, but not from terrorist-sending countries,” Brownback said Monday.

Brownback erroneously said Trump’s pause to refugees’ entrance affected only the seven countries that have been deemed a terror threat. When told the order temporarily applies to all refugees, he responded, “I haven’t looked at that piece of it.”

Brownback visited the Sudan in 2004 while encouraging greater U.S. aid for the war-torn nation. He said he had no problem with Trump’s decision to bar entry to people from that country.

“If they’re a terrorist-sending country, no,” Brownback said. “And the South Sudanese have split off, as you know, from Sudan. They’re not a terrorist-sending country. The fight in Sudan has always been that the north has persecuted the south.”

Brownback reiterated his willingness to take more refugees in Kansas as long as they’re not from countries considered at high risk for terrorism.

“I said this to the Obama team: We will take twice as many to the United States, to Kansas … but not from terrorist-sending countries,” Brownback said. “From Burma or Congo, that are not sending terrorists. Because there are plenty of refugees around the world and we need to make sure that the ones that we bring in are not a threat to the safety of Americans. … There are literally millions of refugees around the world.”

Protests against the order took place at airports and cities around the country, including two in Wichita on Sunday. The Kansas Democratic Party issued a statement on Monday denouncing the order, calling it a ban on Muslims and “antithetical to the very founding principles of our country.”

“It is not based in fact nor reality, but in hatred and inhumanity. The refugees seeking protections in the United States of America are overwhelmingly women, children, elderly, and the sick who need more sophisticated care than their home countries can provide. There is no sanity or cause in turning our backs on the vulnerable,” the statement said. “President Trump and Republican leaders must remember that this is a country of immigrants, and that the United States” takes pride in that.

Kobach called the backlash against the order ill-informed.

“I think part of it was because the executive order was mischaracterized by people on the political left, who had a political agenda,” Kobach said. “They called it a Muslim ban. … It applies to individuals holding a passport from any of these seven countries regardless of whether the person is Muslim, Christian, Jewish, atheist. It doesn’t matter what the person’s religion is. It’s a geographic ban.”

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3

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