Last week, President Trump signed an executive order suspending new-refugee admissions for 120 days and blocking travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia — for 90 days. Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely.
The move caused immediate controversy, sparking protests in cities and airports around the U.S. as federal authorities began enforcing the ban, preventing hundreds of travelers from boarding planes over the weekend. Other travelers and refugees landing in the U.S. have been detained or sent back. Federal judges quickly weighed in to issue temporary stays, and the future of the executive order will very likely be determined in court. The Trump administration has also come under criticism from scores of countries, including close allies.
At the same time, a recent poll by Reuters/Ipsos shows public opinion narrowly backing Trump's action, with 49 percent of Americans agreeing with the order while 41 percent disagreed.
NPR and dozens of member stations wanted to help the public understand where its lawmakers stand on the issue. Collectively, we searched for public statements on Twitter and Facebook, on lawmakers' websites and in interviews with us in public media or other news organizations. We did this for each of the 536 members of Congress — 100 senators, 435 voting members of the House, and the District of Columbia's nonvoting House delegate.
Overall, strong partisan lines are clear on the issue, with Democrats in Congress overwhelmingly opposed to the new travel restrictions; many of them joined in the airport protests, and some called it a "Muslim ban." On the Republican side, members generally support the order, although significant numbers did not make public statements. A few Republicans, especially in the Senate, stated their opposition or offered mixed messages, with some critical of how the order was carried out.
A few observations and notes on how we undertook this project:
- We created four categories to represent each member's position: In Favor, Oppose, No Statement and Statement Unclear.
- If we could not find a statement from a member of Congress on the issue, even if he or she has taken a position on previous bills aimed at restricting refugee access to the United States, we marked that member's position as "No Statement."
- When a statement was clearly in favor of or opposition to the order, it was labeled as such. But many statements were less clear-cut, indicating support for increased scrutiny of refugees and travelers from the seven nations but also showing concern about the specifics of the order and its implementation. Those statements were labeled "Statement Unclear."
- Two members of Congress — Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Angus King of Maine — identify as independents. Because they caucus with Senate Democrats, we included them in the Democratic column.
- Several of Trump's Cabinet nominees are sitting members of Congress, including Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions; Rep. Mick Mulvaney, nominated to lead the Office of Management and Budget; Rep. Ryan Zinke, to lead the Interior Department; and Rep. Tom Price, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. It is traditional for Cabinet nominees to refrain from making public statements during the confirmation process.
- Help us keep this tool accurate! Submit changes in position and new statements here.