Washington Defending his controversial executive order on banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering America, US President Donald Trump has insisted that it is "not a Muslim ban" as is "falsely" reported by the media.
Trump signed the order on Friday which bans Syrian refugees and people from six other countries from entering the US. The move has triggered widespread outrage.
The seven countries mentioned are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia.
"To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. 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," Trump said.
Trump said his administration will again be issuing visas to all countries once the US is sure that it has reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.
"I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering," he said in a statement.
Noting that America is a proud nation of immigrants, Trump said the country will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but will do so while protecting its own citizens and border.
America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave, he said.
"We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say," Trump said, adding that his policy is similar to that of his predecessor Barack Obama who in 2011 banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.
"The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror," Trump said.
In series of tweets, Trump slammed Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham for being critical of his immigration policies.
In a joint statement, the two Senators feared that this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.
"At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies," the two Senators said.
"Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security," they said.
Trump said the joint statement of former presidential candidates McCain and Graham was wrong and they are weak on immigration.
"The two Senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III," Trump tweeted.
McCain and Graham said the government had responsibility to defend American borders, but must be done in a way that makes the US safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about the nation.
"It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump 's executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defence, Justice, and Homeland Security," they said.
"Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help," they said.
"We should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children," they added.
Coming out in support of Trump, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said in light of attempts by jihadist groups to infiltrate fighters into refugee flows to the West, along with Europe's tragic experience of coping with this problem, the executive order on refugees is a common-sense security measure to prevent terror attacks on the homeland.
"While accommodations should be made for green card holders and those who've assisted the US armed forces, this is a useful temporary measure on seven nations of concern until we can verify who is entering the United States," Nunes said.
"I've stated repeatedly that refugee flows from certain war-torn regions pose a serious national security threat to the US," the top Republican Congressman said.