On CNN's State of the Union, Portman Discusses Executive Order on Immigration Visas & Russia Sanctions

January 29, 2017 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­– Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union about the president’s new executive order program on immigration visas and the importance of keeping Russian sanctions in place until it changes its behavior.  

Excerpts of the interview can be found below and the video can be found here.

PORTMAN ON THE NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER PROGRAM ON IMMIGRATION VISAS:

I think it was not properly vetted. So, you have an extreme vetting proposal that didn’t get the vetting it should have had. And as a result, in the implementation, we’ve seen some problems. … I think we should slow down. Let’s make two points. One, our country is not as safe as it should be. I’m on the Homeland Security Committee. We’ve had plenty of testimony in the last couple of years about the fact that there is not adequate screening, particularly on the Visa waiver programs. So I do think we need to tighten things up. And I think there’s general consensus about that. Congress passed legislation to do so at the end of 2015. But second, we have to do it in a way that’s consistent with our values and consistent with our national security. We are this beacon of hope and opportunity for the rest of the world. That’s our self-image and it’s also an important part of our foreign policy. So we have to do it in a way that makes sense. And we have a Cleveland Clinic doctor who, for instance, was turned away last night apparently. That’s not the way to do it.

In my view, we ought to all take a deep breath and come up with something that makes sense for our national security and again for this notion that America has always been a welcoming home for refugees and immigrants. In fact, we are more welcoming than any country in the world and we should continue to be so.” 

PORTMAN ON THE NEED FOR CONGRESS TO PLAY A ROLE IN IMPROVING SCREENING PROCEDURES:

We ought to be part of it. We have been working on this and we passed legislation in this regard. We also had bipartisan legislation in January 2016 that didn’t pass the Senate. It did pass the House with big numbers. It went a little further in terms of some of these procedures. So I think we need to work together on it.” 

PORTMAN ON KEEPING RUSSIAN SANCTIONS IN PLACE:

Russia has clearly violated international law. Their dangerous acts including the taking of Crimea and what they are doing even today on the eastern border of Ukraine are the reason for these sanctions. To relieve these sanctions without getting at the underlying cause would be a huge mistake. By the way, a huge mistake for American foreign policy, too, setting a precedent that when sanctions are put in place, they can be relieved perhaps for other reasons. I would strongly urge the administration not to move forward with removing those sanctions until the reasons those sanctions were put in place are resolved.

Look, we all would like to see a better relationship with this country that has arsenal nuclear weapons and so much influence around the world. We do have common enemies including ISIS that we should be working on together. But the fact is Russia continues to take actions whether it’s on the eastern border of Ukraine, or whether it’s Crimea, or what they have done in Syria and other things in terms of human rights that are not consistent with our national security. We need to stand up and we need to ensure that we are not sending the wrong message to our allies and to our adversaries.”

PORTMAN ON MOVING LEGISLATION TO KEEP RUSSIAN SANCTIONS IN PLACE:

I think there’s a good chance that we have this legislation be bipartisan in the Senate. Our co-sponsorship is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. I think there’s a general sense in the House and the Senate that we need to ensure a clear message is sent. This is not imposing new sanctions, by the way, as much as ensuring the existing sanctions stay in place.” 

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