World

What's the fuss about, ask Trump supporters

'Working-class Americans' shrug off uproar over president's immigration ban

WASHINGTON: Many of US President Donald Trump's core political supporters had a simple message yesterday for the fiercest opponents of his immigration ban: Calm down.

The relaxed reaction among the kind of voters who drove Mr Trump's historic upset election victory - working- and middle-class residents of the Midwest and the South - provided a striking contrast to the uproar that has gripped major coastal cities, where thousands of protesters flocked to airports where immigrants had been detained.

In the St Louis suburb of Manchester, Missouri, 72-year-old Jo Ann Tieken characterised the president as bringing reason into an overheated debate.

"Somebody has to stand up, be the grown up and see what we can do better to check on people coming in," she said.

"I'm all for everybody to stop and take a breath… Just give it a chance."

By executive order on Friday, Mr Trump banned immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen - and temporarily halted the entry of refugees.

In the electoral strongholds for Mr Trump, residents seemed nonplussed about the uproar flashing across their TV screens.

In New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities, Mr Trump's action set off an outpouring of anger.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, evoked an image of the Statue of Liberty weeping.

I'm all for everybody to stop and take a breath …
Just give it a chance.
 72-year-old Jo Ann Tieken, a supporter of US President Donald Trump

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York teared up himself on camera as he seethed over the "mean-spirited and un-American" immigration ban.

Veterans in government agencies, including the Homeland Security and State departments, blasted Trump's team for what they called slipshod planning and scant interagency communication, criticism the White House rejected.

But allegations of operational or administrative blunders may do little to dampen enthusiasm for a president who rose to power on a populist and protectionist platform, political analysts said.

Ms Louise Ingram, a 69-year-old retiree from Troy, Alabama, said she forgave the new administration a few "glitches," such as widespread confusion over treatment of green card holders, as it moved to protect US citizens from attacks.

"I'm not opposed to immigrants," she said.

"I just want to make sure they are safe to come in."

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Ms Candace Wheater, a 60-year-old retired school cafeteria worker from Spring Lake, Michigan, also referenced the attacks in Brussels and Paris.

"Look at what's happening in Europe," she said. "I don't dare travel there, out of fear."

Mr Trent Lott, a former Senate Republican leader from Missouri who is now a lawyer in Washington, DC, said the orders made sense to "working-class Americans in the real world".

He said: "Out in the rest of the country, people are excited to see the president moving forward with securing the border."

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato agreed that the weekend protests over the executive orders would not hurt Mr Trump politically.

He said: "His base is as firm as ever. What he's lost in the very early polls is the Republicans who were never Trumpers and ended up voting for Trump."

Mr Trump could eventually lose support if he fails to keep promises important to regions that supported him, such as delivering jobs to the so-called Rust Belt, the Midwestern states dotted by dying factory towns. - REUTERS

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