COLONIE, N.Y. — Responding Monday to the nationwide uproar over President Donald Trump's temporary immigration ban on several Middle Eastern nations, Congressman Chris Collins could hardly have seemed more surprised.
"The liberal media is going nuts over this. [Senator] Chuck Schumer is going nuts over this," Collins said, speaking to a luncheon of Conservative Party members during the party's 50th annual conference near Albany. "Well, wait a minute: This is a promise [the president] made, and he's doing it in a very sensible way."
The crowd of several dozen variously murmured and applauded in agreement with Collins on Monday. The third-term Republican has been a fervent supporter of Trump, ever since becoming the first Washington lawmaker to endorse the New York City businessman's run for president.
On Trump's immigration ban, signed into executive order last week, Collins insists the move is necessary for homeland security — and even claims to have spoken with Democrats who are "not too worried" about the measure.
"The seven nations that we're putting a 120-day pause on are hotbeds of terrorism and ISIS, as identified by the Obama administration," Collins said. "I don't see that America considers that a negative. I think it's a promise to keep America safe."
Collins also said that the president's indefinite ban on Syrian immigrant refugees is justified, because it repeats a similar bipartisan act that was passed in 2013.
Other conservative endorsees in attendance Monday agreed with Collins.
"I think [the ban] is appropriate, given what we've gone through in this nation and what we've seen throughout the world," said Steve McLaughlin, a Republican state assemblyman from Rensselaer County. "What the left seems to forget is that Barack Obama did the same to Iraqi visas for six months: He stopped immigration."
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2014, said he agreed with the ban in principle. But Astorino faulted the Trump administration's implementation of the plan.
"There were border agents and customs agents who didn't know what was going on. The attorney general's office couldn't defend it," Astorino said. "It probably should have waited a week, with everyone on the same page."
None of the three lawmakers would vow to support an expansion of the ban to include countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan — nations where notorious terror attacks have originated in the past. Each said only that it is incumbent upon the Trump administration to make that call.