- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota’s all-Republican congressional delegation is standing by President Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily suspend America’s refugee program, though U.S Sen. John Thune criticized the way it was rolled out.

Trump signed an order suspending refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely barring the processing of refugees from Syria. It also temporarily bars citizens of seven majority Muslim nations from entering the U.S., but there’s confusion about how it applies to certain groups, like U.S. legal permanent residents.

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem said in a statement that her first priority is the safety of the American people, adding that she shares Trump’s concerns about America’s ability to screen refugees, especially those from “terrorist hotbed areas.”

“I support putting a temporary pause on accepting refugees from terrorist-held areas - at least until the administration can certify that asylum seekers do not present a safety threat to the U.S,” Noem said.

Natalie Krings, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, said in a statement that until the administration is confident that it’s able to process the large number of refugees expected with high certainty, “we should not be allowing this group of refugees into our country.”

“Terrorists have shown they are willing to infiltrate countries posing as refugees,” Rounds said in a statement.

Thune said in a statement that the “very brief pause” gives the U.S. a chance to fully assess the threats it is facing and strengthen the country’s vetting process. But, the third-ranking Senate Republican said that the order’s rollout has created unnecessary confusion and that Americans deserve more clarity from Trump’s administration.

“I strongly oppose any religious test, but I do support a security test,” Thune said.

Immigration lawyers in South Dakota are hearing concerns from families who have resettled in the U.S. from now-banned countries. Taneeza Islam, a Muslim-American immigration lawyer in Sioux Falls, said she has spoken with clients who wonder when they’ll be able to see family members overseas.

“There’s a feeling of panic,” said Islam, adding that she thinks the order is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

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Associated Press writer Hannah Weikel in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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