Trump’s heartland voters shrug off uproar over immigration ban

US President Donald Trump signs an executive order cutting regulations at the White House on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 31 January 2017
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Trump’s heartland voters shrug off uproar over immigration ban

WASHINGTON: Many of US President Donald Trump’s core political supporters had a simple message on Sunday for the fiercest opponents of his immigration ban: Calm down.
The relaxed reaction among the kind of voters who drove Trump’s historic upset victory — working- and middle-class residents of Midwest and the South — provided a striking contrast to the uproar that has gripped major coastal cities, where thousands of protesters flocked to airports where immigrants had been detained.
In the St. Louis suburb of Manchester, Missouri, 72-year-old Jo Ann Tieken characterized the president as bringing reason into an overheated debate.
“Somebody has to stand up, be the grown up and see what we can do better to check on people coming in,” she said.
“I am all for everybody to stop and take a breath. Just give it a chance.”
By executive order on Friday, Trump banned immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — and temporarily halted the entry of refugees.
In the electoral strongholds for Trump, residents seemed nonplussed about the uproar flashing across their television screens.
They shrugged off concerns about botched execution, damage to foreign relations and legal challenges across the country.
In New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities, Trump’s action set off an outpouring of anger.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, evoked an image of the Statue of Liberty weeping. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York teared up himself on camera as he seethed over the “mean-spirited and un-American” immigration ban.
Veterans in government agencies, including the Homeland Security and State departments, blasted Trump’s team for what they called slipshod planning and scant interagency communication, criticism the White House rejected.
At airports, security officials also struggled to consistently enforce vague rules.
But allegations of operational or administrative blunders may do little to dampen enthusiasm for a president who rose to power on a populist and protectionist platform, political analysts said.
Louise Ingram, a 69-year-old retiree from Troy, Alabama, said she forgave the new administration a few “glitches,” such as widespread confusion over treatment of green card holders, as it moved to protect US citizens from attacks.
“I am not opposed to immigrants,” she said.
“I just want to make sure they are safe to come in.”

Fear of Europe
A senior Trump administration official said political considerations had little to do with the executive orders.
They rather represent a reaction to the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California; the Boston Marathon bombing; and multiple attacks by radicalized groups in Europe.
“The reality is that the situation that exists today in parts of France, Germany and parts of Belgium is not a situation that we want replicated inside the US,” one official said.
Candace Wheater, a 60-year-old retired school cafeteria worker from Spring Lake, Michigan, also referenced the attacks in Brussels and Paris.
“Look at what is happening in Europe,” she said. “I do not dare travel there, out of fear.”
Steve Hirsch, 63, from Manassas, Virginia, drove to Washington’s Dulles airport on Sunday to pick somebody up, rather than to protest as hundreds of others did.
He said he supported Trump’s order. “A country is not a country if it does not have borders,” he added.
He lauded Trump’s actions as a calculated step toward the larger goal of tightening border security.
“He probably went as far as he thought he could,” Hirsch said.
“You cannot ban everybody in the world, but I think it is prudent considering the conditions in certain places in the world.”
Trent Lott, a former Senate Republican leader from Mississippi who is now a lawyer in Washington said the orders made sense to “working-class Americans in the real world.”
“Out in the rest of the country, people are excited to see the president moving forward with securing the border,” he said.
University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato agreed that the weekend protests over the executive orders would not hurt Trump politically.
“His base is as firm as ever,” he said.
“What he’s lost in the very early polls is the Republicans who were never Trumpers and ended up voting for Trump.”
Trump opponents have succeeded in winning some early court decisions that could undermine the practical impact of his executive orders, but Sabato said his base would perceive those as attacks from liberal elites.
Trump could eventually lose support if he fails to keep promises important to regions that supported him, such as delivering jobs to the so-called Rust Belt, the Midwestern states dotted by dying factory towns.

UK petition
In Britain, meanwhile, well over a million people have signed a petition calling for Trump’s planned state visit to be canceled to avoid embarrassing Queen Elizabeth.
The invitation to make a state visit, which will involve lavish displays of royal pageantry and a banquet hosted by the monarch, was conveyed by Prime Minister Theresa May when she visited Trump in Washington last week.
But May came under pressure to cancel the visit after Trump issued the controversial executive order.
The petition against the state visit, which is on the British parliament’s website, passed the one million mark on Monday morning and by mid-afternoon local time had over 1.3 million signatories.
“Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official state vsit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen,” the petition says.


Senior US Diplomat arrives in Pakistan amid frosty relations

Updated 28 min 31 sec ago
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Senior US Diplomat arrives in Pakistan amid frosty relations

  • The relationship between Pakistan and the United States is on a ‘slippery slope’ according to foreign-relations expert
  • Travel restrictions on diplomats likely to top the agenda

ISLAMABAD: Alice G. Wells, the US principal deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia, arrived in Islamabad on April 23 to continue talks amid strained relations between the two long-time allies.
The latest trip follows her visit from March 28 to April 3, during which she met several senior federal ministers, UN representatives, National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua, and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. She also went to Karachi to meet provincial officials in Sindh.
When she arrived for this followup, she was greeted by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.
During the previous visit, discussions were held about Washington’s South Asia strategy, unveiled last year, “Pakistan’s stated commitment to eliminate all terrorist groups present within its borders,” and a “shared interest in building economic and commercial ties that benefit both nations” according to the US Embassy.
In the aftermath of the Tashkent conference on Afghanistan, Wells also noted the growing international consensus on the way forward to achieving peace in that country, and the meaningful role that Pakistan, partnering with the United States, could play in achieving that peaceful resolution.
Her latest visit is a follow-up to a series of clashes between the United States and Pakistan over growing differences that threaten decades-old relations between the countries.
The latest row erupted last week after Washington imposed “reciprocal” travel restrictions on Pakistani envoys in the US. After days of speculation, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week confirmed that US authorities had informed it that from May 1, 2018, Pakistani diplomats would be restricted in how far they can travel within the United States without official permission.
Foreign-relations expert Qamar Cheema said that “relations are on a slippery slope” and the travel restrictions will probably take center stage in this week’s meetings between Wells and Pakistani officials.
Washington remains unhappy that its efforts to stabilize Afghanistan are being hindered by Islamabad’s feeble approach to dealing with the Haqqani network of insurgents, which the US says operates from Pakistan, an assertion Islamabad has rejected as it reiterates its commitment to combating all forms of terrorism, said Cheema.
“There are concerns on Pakistan’s long-term strategy to counter terror financing, stop the rise of ISIS recruits and its activity, and its assistance with talks and negotiations with the Taliban,” Cheema added.
The latest travel restrictions are in response to Islamabad’s already imposed curbs on US diplomats, which stems from a trust deficit and a number of damaging incidents. These include the US Navy SEAL raid of 2011 that killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, which was carried out without Pakistan’s prior knowledge.
The Trump administration had warned Pakistan of “punitive measures”. The United States Bureau of Industry and Security, which works under the Department of Commerce, has placed sanctions on seven Pakistani firms purportedly engaged in nuclear trade, a move that damaged Pakistan’s attempt to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
A move co-sponsored by the US in February, meanwhile, convinced the Financial Action Task Force to place Pakistan back on its “gray list” of “jurisdictions with deficient anti-money laundering regimes.”
In January, Trump accused Islamabad of taking billions from America and in return giving “nothing but lies and deceit,” and sheltering terrorists. The US withheld $255 million from about $1 billion in assistance. The same month, Washington placed Pakistan on its “special watch list for severe violations of religious freedom.”
“Relations are hanging by a single thread and could free-fall anytime,” Cheema said, but added that the continuation of constructive interaction from both sides at least shows “the belief that cooperation and engagement is the only way forward for peace in the region.”