UNION LEADER: Shaheen to NH business leaders: Trump travel ban not good policy
As originally appearing in NH Union Leader

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent

BEDFORD — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen told a group of business leaders on Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s travel ban on immigrants and refugees could undermine local alliances and is not a good national security policy.

The Trump administration has said they are working to craft a new executive order that would replace the current ban on immigrants from seven countries and all refugees, which has been put on hold by a federal court.

“I believe this is a country of immigrants, and this is one of the things that has made America so strong,” Shaheen told members of the New England Council. “While we want to ensure people coming into the country are not a threat, we have a very extensive vetting process.”

She said that process could be improved and made better but that it doesn’t make sense to work with Muslim nations trying to help fight terrorism while simultaneously targeting the citizens of those countries and not allowing them into the United States.

“I don’t think targeting seven countries with a majority of Muslim populations and saying those are the people we are not going to let in is a policy that makes sense for America,” she said, adding Iraq — one of the seven countries listed in the executive order — is a major partner in the fight against terrorism and ISIS in the Middle East.

Shaheen, who recently returned from the Munich Security Conference, said European leaders and others are concerned about the United States’ position and whether it will support the transatlantic alliance, a longtime partnership between the United States and Europe.

“For the first time, they are worried about what the United States is going to do — whether we are going to continue to be there as a partner for them in Europe,” she said, adding a large congressional delegation was present to send a bipartisan message that Congress believes in the transatlantic alliance and NATO.

According to Shaheen, members of Congress are also concerned about the threat from Russia and other threats that are facing the alliance. She met with officials in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, and was told that they are worried about potential threats in the Baltics.

There are fears of not just threats to the military, but threats to democracy, said Shaheen.

“The effort to influence and undermine our elections is going on in Europe right now. The Russians are interfering in the German elections, the French elections and the Swedish elections,” she said. “We should not be worried about the military threat from Russia — we need to be worried about the threat to Western democracies.”

Their interference and their cyber attacks are undercutting commercial enterprises, she said.

khoughton@newstote.com

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