Silence and solidarity: Georgia Republicans on Trump's refugee decision

Former Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Credit: Jim Galloway

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Former Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

There was mostly silence from top Georgia Republican elected officials on President Donald Trump's executive order to keep millions of foreigners out of the country. But there was a surge of support for the controversial policy from Trump's self-styled outsider allies in Georgia.

"This is looking forward. This is inheriting a mess and trying to determine: Is there a problem here, or is there not?" said former Rep. Jack Kingston, a Savannah Republican and one of Trump's go-to surrogates on cable news.

The order blocked all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days, indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from coming into the country and suspended citizens of seven countries from traveling here: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The order, which took effect Friday afternoon, created chaos across the globe as scores of refugees were detained at airports in Atlanta and around the nation. A federal judge's order temporarily prevented the government from deporting some arrivals.

Bruce Levell, the head of Trump's diversity coalition and a likely candidate for Congress in suburban Atlanta, echoed the president's argument that the measures would help prevent terrorism.

“For the last 8 years, radical liberals have weakened our borders, made deals with terrorist countries and jeopardized American security interests," he said. "President Trump’s executive order is exactly what our nation needs to ensure that radical islamic terrorism finds no safe harbor on American soil."

Meanwhile, most members of the state's congressional delegation were mum on the refugee policy over the weekend, and requests for comment from most of them went unanswered.

Republicans Rick Allen of Evans and Buddy Carter of Pooler voiced support for the order.

Allen said the move " keeps Americans safe until we can reform our visa process and the vetting of refugees."

Some local activists quickly embraced the move.

Harry Abrams, a Cherokee County Republican, called Trump's order an "attempt to restore sanity" to the nation's immigration policy - and a first step toward curbing illegal immigration.

"Our country has legally defined borders and the lawful right to protect those borders," said Abrams. "The utter failure to respect the laws on the books and circumvent those laws by the past Administration has made a mockery of what we stand for."

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