In his weekly media call Monday, Rep. Tom Reed affirmed that he stands with President Donald Trump on what Reed termed the president’s “travel pause” for terror hotspots.
The Republican congressman, who represents the Greater Olean area, was referring to Trump’s executive order for a 90-day period barring refugees and immigrants from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen from entering the United States.
Before speaking about the executive order, Reed referred to the Sunday night hate crime in a mosque in Montreal that resulted in the death of at least six people. He told callers, “I just want to take a moment and send our thoughts and prayers out to our friends in Quebec and Canada.”
Reed then said he stood by the president’s executive order.
“What the president is doing is making sure that American citizens’ safety is first and foremost as we deal with this issue of refugees and folks that are coming from terroristic hotspots in the world,” he said. “I think this list of nations is a reasonable list, and I believe the president has narrowed it to those spots that have demonstrated known terrorist activity and threats to America. You don’t have to look any further than what happened in Canada and Quebec.
“This threat is real, and we need to make sure that we protect our fellow American citizens’ safety day-in and day-out,” he added. “We don’t have the luxury of missing something. We have to be right 100 percent of the time.”
Reed said he believes Trump is doing exactly what he said he was going to do during his campaign: “Making sure that our borders are secure, and for the folks that are coming in, we make sure that the vetting process is thorough and extreme to mitigate the risk as much as possible.”
He also termed the 90-day bar as a step in the process, one that allows systems and the vetting process to be checked, and noted that listing those seven countries is reasonable, since they have been hotbeds of terrorist activity over the years.
“As we see the protestors and I listen to their concerns, we have to make sure that this system works. I would hope that we could come together to find that common ground and try to recognize what we’re trying doing here, and that is to keep American citizens safe,” he said.
Reed said he wants to make sure the concerns are being proactively delivered to the stakeholders “to make sure they know where we stand.” He added that he wants to be a resource and to eliminate any misinterpretation or misinformation in the hands of those who are impacted.
He also mentioned that this “travel pause” is not the first time that refugees have been denied entrance into America because of threats from other countries. “What we need to do is make sure that if we go forward, we have that secure border to keep our fellow American citizens safe and secure because that’s my top priority as an elected official in Washington,” Reed said.
The barring of citizens from the listed countries has caused concern for international students seeking education in the United States. Reed, whose Congressional district includes 11 counties stretching from from Chautauqua to Tompkins, said his office reached out to all universities in his district to assist them through the travel pause. He advised international students to confirm that all of their paperwork is complete and in order. Institutions of higher learning in the 23rd District include St. Bonaventure, Alfred and Cornell universities.
“We have resources in the office that specialize in this area, and we want to make sure that this goes as smooth as possible,” Reed said.
The Department of Homeland Security has clarified that the travel ban does not affect green card holders or permanent legal residents who are working, Reed said, adding that his office also acts as a resource for such people.
Reed also spoke about the loss of an American soldier in Yemen a few days ago.
“This is the issue we’re dealing with,” he said. “We can never forget the sacrifice of our men and women who serve us to keep us safe, and you see, again, yet another example that this threat is real, and American blood is being lost. That is why I am so committed to my fellow American citizens to make sure that the top priority is keeping them safe, so we can mitigate the losses we suffer as a nation, and as a people.”
Some persons on the media call asked if Christians from those seven nations are exempt from the ban. Reed responded the limits are not by religion but by countries and populations specifically targeted. And others questioned why nations whose residents had committed more recent terrorist acts were not included.
Reed responded that he believes that the president and his advisers know which countries are the greatest risks for terrorist threats. He added that a discretionary call has to be made – and that’s what the president does.
“It’s not about the politics,” Reed said. “It’s about keeping citizens safe.”
The vacancy on the United States Supreme Court was another topic Reed touched on. He said he wants to see a judge who will interpret and uphold the Constitution and that he believes that the judges being considered have gone through a complete vetting process.
“I think who he will name is somebody who is going to follow the role of the court, and that’s to interpret the law and follow the Constitution,” Reed said. “I hope at the end of the day, that’s the type of judge we see come through the nomination process.”