Trump defends immigration ban in fiery statement, says GOP senators opposing are 'looking to start World War III'

After top Republican lawmakers harshly criticized President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US, he fired back on Sunday in an official statement and in more candid words on Twitter.

Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina released a joint statement on Sunday calling the ban "a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism." They were just two of the more prominent lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have come out against Trump's order, which sparked widespread protests across the nation.

The president called out McCain and Graham specifically in two tweets Sunday evening, accusing the veteran senators of "looking to start World War III."

Federal judges issued rulings on Saturday and Sunday preventing the deportation of affected travelers stuck in airports across the US, but the long-term effects and legality of the executive order remain unclear.

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Protests to Donald Trump's refugee ban
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: Immigration activists stage a protest against President Donald Trump's 90-days ban of entry on 7 Muslim-majority countries in JFK airport in New York, U.S.A on January 28, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: Activists stage a rally against President Donald Trump's 90-days ban of entry on 7 Muslim-majority countries in the Fourth terminal of JFK airport in New York, U.S.A on January 28, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: Immigration activists stage a protest against President Donald Trump's 90-days ban of entry on 7 Muslim-majority countries in JFK airport in New York, U.S.A on January 28, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Protestors rally during a demonstration against the new immigration ban issued by President Donald Trump at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport against Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017 in New York. US President Donald Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Trump boasted Saturday that his 'very strict' crackdown on Muslim immigration was working 'very nicely,' amid mounting resistance to the order which has been branded by many as blatantly discriminatory. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport against Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017 in New York. US President Donald Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Trump boasted Saturday that his 'very strict' crackdown on Muslim immigration was working 'very nicely,' amid mounting resistance to the order which has been branded by many as blatantly discriminatory. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca addresses a crowd during an anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protest outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A crowd gathers during an anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protest outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
People gather during an anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protest outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against US President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against US President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators hang a banner from a multi-level car park during a protest against Donald Trump's travel ban outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
People participate in a protest against Donald Trump's travel ban outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 28: Hundreds of people gathered for a rally at the Chinatown Gate in Boston and marched to the State House in a demonstration against President Trump's new immigration order the day after it was issued, Jan. 28, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 28: Tori Furtado, from Boston, kneels down to write a sign that reads, 'Love has no borders,' in front of the Chinatown Gate, where hundreds gathered for a rally before marching to the State House in a demonstration against President Trump's new immigration order the day after it was issued, Jan. 28, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 28: Hundreds of people gathered for a rally at the Chinatown Gate in Boston and marched to the State House in a demonstration against President Trump's new immigration order the day after it was issued, Jan. 28, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 28: Hundreds of people marched down Kneeland Street in Boston after gathering for a rally at the Chinatown Gate in Boston before walking to the State House in a demonstration against President Trump's new immigration order the day after it was issued, Jan. 28, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 28: Nydia Velazquez seen as protesters gather in a demonstration against President Trumps executive order barring immigrants and refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries outside JFK airport terminal 4 on January 28, 2017 in New York City. PHOTOGRAPH BY Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 28: Protesters gather in a demonstration against President Trumps executive order barring immigrants and refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries outside JFK airport terminal 4 on January 28, 2017 in New York City. PHOTOGRAPH BY Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 28: Protesters gather in a demonstration against President Trumps executive order barring immigrants and refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries outside JFK airport terminal 4 on January 28, 2017 in New York City. PHOTOGRAPH BY Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 28: Protesters gather in a demonstration against President Trumps executive order barring immigrants and refugees from certain predominantly Muslim countries outside JFK airport terminal 4 on January 28, 2017 in New York City. PHOTOGRAPH BY Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Joel Sheakoski / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Protesters gather at JFK International Airport's Terminal 4 to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order on January 28, 2017, in New York. Trump has signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. / AFP / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters gather outside Terminal 4 at JFK airport in opposition to U.S. president Donald Trump's proposed ban on immigration in Queens, New York City, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Yang
Port Authority Police Department block an entrance as protesters gather outside Terminal 4 at JFK airport in opposition to U.S. president Donald Trump's proposed ban on immigration in Queens, New York City, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Yang
Protesters gather outside Terminal 4 at JFK airport in opposition to U.S. president Donald Trump's proposed ban on immigration in Queens, New York City, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Yang
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28: Immigration activists stage a protest against President Donald Trump's 90-days ban of entry on 7 Muslim-majority countries in JFK airport in New York, U.S.A on January 28, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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In a longer, but still fiery, statement, Trump defended the temporary ban, insisting it was "not about religion" but about "protecting our own citizens and border."

The statement followed a long day of defense from Trump's advisers, who criticized the Brooklyn judge who issued the stay, emphasized the "temporary" aspect of the order, and offered "apologies for nothing here."

Leaders around the world came out against the action. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Trump that the global fight against terrorism was no excuse for banning people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Here's the full statement from Trump on the executive order:

"America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say. My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days. I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering."

And here's the full statement from McCain and Graham:

"Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.

It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.

Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.

Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security."

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