Only a third of Americans think Trump's travel ban will make them safer

NEW YORK, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Imposing a temporary travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries, President Donald Trump said the move would help protect the United States from terrorism. But less than one-third of Americans believe the move makes them "more safe," according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday.

The Jan. 30-31 poll found roughly one in two Americans backed the ban, which also suspends admission of all refugees for 120 days, although there were sharp divisions along party lines.

Trump has pushed back against critics who say the travel ban targets Muslims. He says the "extreme vetting" is necessary to protect the country and its borders.

RELATED: Business leaders react to Trump's travel ban

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Business leaders react to Trump administration's travel ban
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Business leaders react to Trump administration's travel ban

Bill Ford and Mark Fields, executive chairman and CEO of Ford

"Respect for all people is a core value of Ford Motor Company, and we are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world." - Memo to employees

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO

"Like many of you, I'm concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump ...

"These issues are personal for me even beyond my family. A few years ago, I taught a class at a local middle school where some of my best students were undocumented. They are our future too. We are a nation of immigrants, and we all benefit when the best and brightest from around the world can live, work and contribute here. I hope we find the courage and compassion to bring people together and make this world a better place for everyone." 

Read full statement here

REUTERS/Mariana Bazo/File Photo

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO

"The blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s challenges.

"Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They've done right,not wrong & don't deserve to be rejected." - Twitter

REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

"Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do." - Memo to employees

(Photo credit JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

"This executive order is one we do not support.

"We're a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years.... It's a distinctive competitive advantage for our country—one we should not weaken." - Memo to employees

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO

"Trump's actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all. Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity." - Facebook

REUTERS/Steve Marcus/Files 

Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO

"There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business. "

- Read full statement here

REUTERS/David Ryder (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and CEO of Twitter

"11% of Syrian immigrants to the U.S. are business owners, more than triple that of U.S.-born business owners" - Twitter

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

Mark Parker, Nike CEO

"Nike stands together against bigotry and any form of discrimination. Now more than ever, let’s stand up for our values and remain open and inclusive as a brand and as a company." 

- Read full statement here

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Brian Chesky, Airbnb founder

"Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right and we must stand with those who are affected.

"Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US. Stayed tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing." - Twitter

REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola CEO

"Coca-Cola Co. is resolute in its commitment to diversity, fairness and inclusion, and we do not support this travel ban or any policy that is contrary to our core values and beliefs." -e-mailed statement

REUTERS/Ruben Sprich 

Brian Moynihan, Bank of America CEO

"As a global company, we depend upon the diverse sources of talent that our teammates represent.

"In view of this, we are closely monitoring the recent refugee- and immigration-related executive order in the United States, and subsequent developments." - Memo to employees

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS HEADSHOT)

Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO

"Drivers who are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen and live in the U.S. but have left the country, will not be able to return for 90 days. This means they won't be able to earn money and support their families during this period." - Facebook

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia CEO

"I believe that with this Executive Order, our President has reverted to the short game. The U.S. may be ever so slightly less dangerous as a place to live, but it will certainly be seen as a smaller nation, one that is inward-looking versus forward thinking, reactionary versus visionary." - Memo to employees

2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS TRAVEL)

Jeff Immelt, General Electric CEO

"These employees and customers are critical to our success and they are our friends and partners." - Memo to employees

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Trip Advisor CEO Stephen Kaufer

"We need to do more, not less, to help refugees. Trumps action was wrong on humanitarian grounds, legal grounds, and won't make us 'safer.' " - Twitter

(Photo by Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)

Salesforce CEO Vala Afshar

Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO

"40% of Fortune 500 founded by immigrants or their children. All ethnicities should have access to opportunity -- founding principle of U.S." - Twitter

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff

"When we close our hearts & stop loving other people as ourselves (MK 12:31) we forget who we truly are---a light unto the nations. " - Twitter

(Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

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"This is not about religion," Trump said in a statement after announcing the travel ban on Friday. "This is about terror and keeping our country safe."

In the Reuters/Ipsos poll some 31 percent of people said the ban made them feel "more safe," while 26 percent said it made them feel "less safe." Another 33 percent said it would not make any difference and the rest said they don't know.

Trump's executive order blocked citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and placed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

Some Republican lawmakers criticized Trump's order and said it could backfire by giving terrorist organizations a new recruitment message.

"This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country," senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a joint statement.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 49 percent of Americans agreed with the order and 41 percent disagreed. Some 53 percent of Democrats said they "strongly disagree" with Trump's action while 51 percent of Republicans said they "strongly agree."

Democrats were more than three times as likely as Republicans to say that the "U.S. should continue to take in immigrants and refugees," and Republicans were more than three times as likely as Democrats to agree that "banning people from Muslim countries is necessary to prevent terrorism."

Cheryl Hoffman, 46, of Sumerduck, Virginia said she was thrilled that Trump ordered the ban.

"I understand that the country was founded on immigrants," said Hoffman, who participated in the poll. "Please, I get that. But I'm worried that refugees are coming in and being supported by my tax dollars."

Another poll respondent, Veronica Buetel, 57, of Green, Ohio felt just the opposite: "Yes, we do live in scary times, but there are other, better ways to root out terrorism."

Westy Egmont, director of the Immigrant Integration Lab at Boston College, said Americans have grown increasingly hostile toward refugees and immigrants as the influx has shifted from Eastern Europeans to people from countries like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.

"The rise of those numbers, as relatively small as they are, have gathered just enough attention to set off a small reaction from people who are genuinely uncomfortable with the diversity around them," Egmont said.

Most Americans, however, don't think the country should show a preference for Christian refugees, as Trump has suggested. Some 56 percent, including 72 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Republicans, disagreed that the country should "welcome Christian refugees, but not Muslim ones."

On Tuesday, the Trump administration sought to clarify that citizens of U.S. ally Israel who were born in Arab countries would be allowed into the United States.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English in all 50 states. It gathered poll responses from 1,201 people including 453 Democrats and 478 Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points for the entire sample and 5 percentage points for the Democrats and the Republicans. (Reporting by Chris Kahn, editing by Ross Colvin)

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