In December 2015, while vying for the Republican nomination, Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the country "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." Georgia Muslims at the time viewed the plan as bigoted.
The latest order Trump signed, which took effect Friday, blocked all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, indefinitely barred Syrian refugees and suspended citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from coming here, creating a frenzy in airports.
His executive action received a similar sentiment among supporters interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: it’s a necessary, albeit extreme, measure to protect Americans.
“I think he’s doing what he has to do for now until we can get a better system in place to weed out the people who want to do us harm,” said Penny Nelson, an accountant from Roswell. “They do tend to come from all of those areas.”
No Americans were killed on U.S. soil by citizens from any of those countries between 1975 and 2015, according to the conservative-leaning Cato Institute.
Most of the 19 hijackers on the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001, were from Saudi Arabia. The rest were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. None of those countries made Trump's visa ban list.
Afghanistan also didn’t make the list.
What doesn’t seem extreme to supporters is Trump’s use of executive order to carry out the policy. Former President Barack Obama’s use of an executive order for immigration policy was seen by many Republicans as federal overreach.
“He (Trump) has to do this in the beginning to turn things around and get some results and show people that he’s not the tyrant they think he is,” Nelson said. “I think he’ll work with Congress, but this is what he has to do to get things on track.”
What’s most needed in the country, they say, is a proper vetting system.
“The security of the nation is at stake when you bring in people that you cannot verify and cannot tell who they’re for and who they’re against,” said Ken Poynter, who is from Rockdale.
“Too many times, we don’t know anything about them, their past history or anything else.”
Federal intelligence and security agencies conduct background checks on refugees before they are allowed into the country, and officials say the current process of vetting can take one or two years for someone from a country like Syria.
While Steven Black, who lives in Gray, said “Islam is a violent religion,” he insisted that the policy should not be viewed as anti-Muslim.
“I don’t care if they’re coming from the North Pole. You need to vet these folks,” he said. “It’s not just Muslims. It’s anybody that has tendencies to want to kill folks.”
Black said the government should monitor immigrants even after they have been let into the country until it is determined that they pose no risk.
“There is nothing wrong with surveilling people because you don’t know who’s a bad guy and who’s a good guy,” he said.
Some Trump’s supporters voiced a general fear of Muslims.
“The Muslim’s purpose is to get rid of Americans,” Keith of Jasper said. “They don’t believe in our God. They don’t believe in our country. They believe they are supposed to be in power. They form ISIS. They’ve killed military men.”
But she also sought to separate Muslims in America from terrorists who also happen to be Muslim. Keith said she supports legal immigration.
“We’d never shut our doors of compassion to anyone that comes through to America asking and coming the right way,”she said.
Trump’s temporary policy, Nelson said, will help ensure greater freedoms for all.
“I know all the people are not bad, and I do feel extremely sad and sorry and sympathize for the innocent people and the refugees, but I still think he’s protecting the American people and doing what he swore he would do when he was inaugurated, which is put America first,” Nelson said.