Washington: Defending Donald Trump's order to ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations, the White House on Sunday said the US President was only delivering what he promised during his campaign, even as the decision invited backlash from some of his own Republican party members.
"This is nothing new. President Trump talked about this throughout the campaign and throughout the transition," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told ABC News.
"Protecting this nation and our people is the number one priority of this president and our government," Spicer said in a defence of the executive orders signed by Trump earlier this week which calls for temporary ban on nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US.
The order immediately suspends entry of Syrian refugees into the US and bans nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia for at least 90 days.
Spicer said the countries were first flagged as "countries of particular concern" by the previous administration of Barack Obama. "They should be asked certain questions. They should go through certain vetting," Spicer said.
The White House also pushed back on the argument that the executive orders literally means a ban on Muslims.
"These seven countries, what about the 46 majority Muslim countries that are not included. Right there, it totally undercuts this nonsense that this is a Muslim ban," White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News separately.
"This is a ban on prospective travel from countries, trying to prevent terrorists in this country, from countries that have a recent history of training and exporting and harboring terrorists," she said.
However, three Republican Senators Ben Sasse, Susan Collins and Jeff Flake - joined the anti-Executive Order protest. "The president is right to focus attention on the obvious fact that borders matter. At the same time, while not technically a Muslim ban, this order is too broad," said Sasse.