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Republicans Stand Behind President Trump On Immigration Orders

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The two Americas that we kept hearing about during the presidential campaign are nose to nose in Congress. Whether people see Trump as keeping his promises or shredding the Constitution depends on which of those two Americas lawmakers represent, and each side believes the other is missing the real story, as NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis reports.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: When asked to sum up his first impressions of the Trump presidency, Idaho Republican Raul Labrador pointed to a piece of wisdom he read on Twitter.

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RAUL LABRADOR: I saw a tweet this morning that I think encapsulated how we should all feel as Republicans. This is the first time in American history that people are complaining that a president is keeping his promises.

DAVIS: For conservatives like Labrador, that is exactly what Trump is doing.

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LABRADOR: He told us what he was going to do when he was running for president. He said exactly what he was going to do. There's no secrets about what he wanted to do, and he has done it at a expeditious rate.

DAVIS: Trump's executive orders to build the wall and temporarily halt the flow of refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations, as well as his nomination last night of conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, have all galvanized his political opposition. There have been spontaneous protests across the country, and Democratic leaders in Congress like California's Linda Sanchez speak plainly of their contempt for the president's actions.

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LINDA SANCHEZ: Donald Trump has essentially stepped into office and shredded the Constitution. And I searched mightily to try to characterize what the first 10 days of his presidency have been like, and the only words that come to mind are dumpster fire.

DAVIS: It's yet another example that when it comes to Trump, Democrats and Republicans are often living in parallel universes. And in Republican's universe, Trump's actions are cause for celebration, like in Republican Scott Perry's predominantly white working class district in central Pennsylvania. He says his office has been flooded with calls of support.

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SCOTT PERRY: By and large most of the people that contact the office are very invigorated by what they see. It's what they asked for. It's what they came to rallies for. And once again, the president is fulfilling promises. The fact that maybe it's not as smooth as many of us would like to see or maybe we're used to seeing, I think, also underscores the fact that he's operating without a full team.

DAVIS: Most Republican frustration is over how Trump's immigration orders were rolled out, not on the bottom line of what they aim to do. Speaker Paul Ryan said the confusion over the weekend regarding Trump's immigration orders was, in his words, regrettable, but he said Republicans agree on the end goal.

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PAUL RYAN: So what is happening is something that we support which is we need to pause, and we need to make sure that the vetting standards are up to snuff so we can guarantee the safety and security of our country. That is what this does.

DAVIS: The first national poll conducted after Trump issued the travel ban finds more Americans support his immigration decisions than oppose them. That's consistent with past polling that indicates the public is generally supportive of tougher vetting standards for foreign visitors, and it's why Republicans like Pennsylvania's Lou Barletta shrug off Democratic protests as tone deaf.

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LOU BARLETTA: It's actually making him stronger among those who voted for him which were not all just Republicans, they were Democrats as well as independents. So, you know, for the Democrat Party who is - would hope to win back their own Democrats and the independents, they may be actually pushing them even further away.

DAVIS: Barletta is part of the Tea Party class that swept into power on a promise to shake up Washington. For the first time, he says, they're starting to feel like they're delivering.

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BARLETTA: For most, especially that came in my class of 2010 and the big wave, this is what we were hoping to do so I think it's refreshing for some.

DAVIS: And he says it's only just beginning. Susan Davis, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.