As demonstrators swarmed to airports to protest President Trump's executive order on refugees and immigrants, our region's Congressional representatives have had to figure out what they think about the travel ban.
It was easy for Democrats. Many made their way to Philadelphia International Airport to join protesters, including Philadelphia U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, South Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross, and Delaware U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester.
For Republicans it was a trickier calculation, since their party holds the White House.
All seven GOP Congressional representatives I contacted issued statements expressing some degree of concern about Trump's order or its implementation. None was available for an interview except U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent of the Leigh Valley, a critic of Trump during last year's campaign.
In a phone interview, Dent said the order was overly broad and badly implemented. "This was not properly vetted, and the implementation has been very rough," he said, "and that's why I've called on the administration to halt enforcement of this action until more people can take a look at it."
Dent, who represents a large Syrian immigrant population, is the only area representative contacted who explicitly called on the administration to stop enforcing the order.
Finding fault, but not too much
Because there's no pending Congressional action on the order, every representative can craft his or her own critique. There's no need to give the Trump order a clear thumbs up or down.
The most supportive of local Republicans was New Jersey U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, who represents swaths of Burlington and Ocean counties. He said while Trump's order "could have been implemented better, I applaud him for acting. Our new president deserves the chance to make our country safer and I will work in Congress to help the Administration settle on a long-term fix that protects our people and our values."