Sen. Ben Cardin visited the University of Maryland’s Van Munching Hall on Feb. 27 and criticized President Trump’s administration for its alleged ties with Russia, proposed border wall and an immigration ban he says contrasts with American values.
More than 60 people gathered in the public policy school’s atrium to talk with Cardin about concerns over Trump’s global policy and relationships with other countries.
Cardin said the public must get full and accurate information from their news sources — claiming misinformation is the reason some people support Trump’s actions, such as his executive order temporarily banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Although that order was nixed by a federal appeals court, Trump is planning to release a revised version of the ban.
Cardin said the ban, which also suspended admission of refugees for 120 days, goes against American values.
“Americans don’t really understand that refugees don’t cause problems,” Cardin said.
The United States admitted more than 84,000 in fiscal 2016, according to the Refugee Processing Center. Most of these refugees came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which accounted for 16,370 refugees, and Syria, which accounted for 12,587.
Americans haven’t been in favor of allowing refugees to come to the United States. According to a Bloomberg Politics poll, 53 percent of Americans said they didn’t want to let any Syrian refugees into the U.S. after the Islamic State attacks in Paris in November 2015.
Whitney Dixon, a graduate student studying public policy and international security, said it it is imperative for people to know both sides of any story.
“This element of fake news is just not having enough information from the other side,” Dixon said.
Cardin also criticized Trump for his stances against other countries, including Mexico. Building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border will not prevent people or drugs from entering the U.S, Cardin said. He added Trump has “disrespected” Mexico, which the United States relies on to help stifle drug trafficking and people entering the U.S. illegally.
He asserted Trump has only treated one country positively: Russia.
Although Cardin said he doesn’t question the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, he does want a serious investigation into Russia’s involvement with the presidential election, as well as a further look into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn resigned earlier this month after it was revealed he had misled Vice President Pence and other White House officials regarding the extent of his contact with the Russian ambassador to the United States prior to Trump’s inauguration.
Looking toward to the future, Cardin said bipartisan cooperation in Congress will be as important as ever with Trump in office.
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“We need to be more united in how we move forward,” he said.
Cardin is working with several Republican senators, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.S.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to pressure the White House to maintain sanctions on Russia and to seek accountability for war crimes committed in Syria by the Bashar al-Assad regime.
Dixon said Cardin’s actions demonstrate that he is willing to speak out about issues he doesn’t agree with.
“Senator Cardin has a responsibility,” Dixon said, “but we do as well in terms of holding our representatives accountable.”
Ben Honey, a second year graduate student studying international security and economic policy, said he is glad to see Cardin collaborating with Republicans to combat Trump’s policies.
“I’m optimistic about his willingness to work with Republicans because I don’t feel like it’s happening publicly, but it seems like it’s happening behind the scenes,” Honey said.
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Whitney Dixon supported Sen. Ben Cardin’s efforts to challenge the Trump administration’s actions. This story has been updated.