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Ohio senators Portman, Brown object to Trump’s immigration changes

By Jack Torry, Canton Repository

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Washington, January 29, 2017 | comments
Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown objected to the decision to prevent a Cleveland Clinic physician on a Sudanese passport from returning to the United States as part of President Donald Trump's temporary ban on people from seven countries from entering America.
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Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown objected to the decision to prevent a Cleveland Clinic physician on a Sudanese passport from returning to the United States as part of President Donald Trump's temporary ban on people from seven countries from entering America.

In an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Portman, R-Ohio, said Suha Abushamma, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic since July and who has a work visa, should have been allowed into the country "because she's been properly vetted" in the past by U.S. officials.

Employing even sharper language, Brown, D-Ohio, called the decision to block her entry "cruel, foolish and out of step with American values," adding "turning away doctors here to learn and help people does not make America safer."

Brown spoke personally with senior officials at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation's most prestigious medical institutions. Abushamma, 26, who lives in Cleveland Heights near the Cleveland Clinic, is Muslim and a citizen of Sudan.

She had been in the Middle East for the past three weeks before flying Saturday from Saudi Arabia to John F. Kennedy International in New York City, according to Cleveland.com.

"I want to personally thank everyone for their support and well wishes," Abushamma said in statement on the Cleveland Clinic web site. "Although this has been a difficult experience, I am grateful to be safe with my family in Saudi Arabia. Please know that I am deeply committed to my medical career and to helping patients at Cleveland Clinic."

In addition, two other Cleveland Clinic residents who had been on vacation in Iran were detained for a few hours upon their arrival in New York and then released.

In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said that "America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border."
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To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting," Trump said. "This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days."

Trump's executive order issued Friday provoked criticism from Brown, Portman and Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington.

Stivers said while he agreed with Trump that "we must improve our visa vetting process," he warned "the executive order risks violating our nation's values and fails to differentiate mainstream Islamic partners from radical Islamic terrorists - setting back our fight against radical Islam.""

"I urge the administration to quickly replace this temporary order with permanent improvements in the visa vetting process," Stivers said.

Portman told CNN that Trump's executive order was an "extreme vetting proposal that didn't get the vetting it should have had." While acknowledging "there's not adequate screening, particularly on our visa waiver programs," he added "we've got to do it in a way that is consistent with our values and consistent with our national security."

"And we are this beacon of hope and opportunity for the rest of the world," Portman said. "That's our self-image. It's also an important part of our foreign policy. So, we have got to do it in a way that makes sense. And we have a Cleveland Clinic doctor, for instance, who was turned away last night, apparently. That's not the way to do it."

In a statement, Brown said "keeping America safe must be our top priority, and we do that by aggressively going after terrorism wherever it exists, not by turning our backs on children and families just like ours, whose only goal is to escape violence and persecution."

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