Following inauguration, College Republicans reassess stances

Amanda Svachula, Reporter

Last Thursday, College Republicans treasurer David Donnelly dismissed the idea that President Trump would actually go through with an immigration ban, which he had proposed during his campaign.

“He’s already said he’s not going to do the Muslim ban,” the McCormick junior told The Daily last week. “That was a little political trip.”

But the next day, the 45th president signed an executive order suspending the entry of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, halting entrance of refugees for 120 days and of Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Since his inauguration, Trump has signed seven executive orders and 11 memoranda. He has started implementing his campaign promises for a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border, appointed a new Supreme Court justice and called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

As Trump’s decisions face backlash, Northwestern’s College Republicans chapter has struggled to settle on the organization’s stance on his presidency. While some have supported the president since his 2016 campaign, others are voicing concerns about his controversial actions.

The group’s vice president Julia Cohen said the election and the Trump administration’s policies have made her question her beliefs and reassess the party to which she belongs. Cohen said she did not vote for Trump and participated in the Women’s March on Chicago, which protested Trump’s inauguration, on Jan. 21.

“I’m very anti-Trump,” she said. “You can be yourself and untraditional without being an asshole.”

Northwestern’s College Republicans refrained from endorsing a candidate during the 2016 election. Since the beginning of the primaries, there has been more dynamic conversation and disagreement than ever within the group, said Donnelly, who did not vote for either Trump or Clinton.

Cohen and Donnelly are not exceptions within the organization. Even among those who voted for Trump, some were reluctant to do so and have been critical of the president’s first few days in office, said Weinberg sophomore Sammy Cuautle, who supports Donald Trump.

Members of the organization remain strongly divided on the president’s policies. Cuautle said though he doesn’t think Trump’s immigration ban is a bad idea, he would have preferred if Trump went through Congress rather than signing an executive order.

“I don’t see it … necessarily as turning a blind eye; it’s changing the way (immigrants are) accepted,” Cuautle said. “There’s nothing wrong with taking people who need humanitarian help. There is also nothing wrong with prioritizing American interests abroad.”

Donnelly said he isn’t surprised by the order, as Trump promised it repeatedly during the campaign, but disagrees with the idea that it could decrease terrorism in the United States.

“Whether it’s going to help terror in the U.S., I’m skeptical,” he said. “Most of the recent attacks have been by Americans or other people who were already here legally. We’ll just have to see whether it actually decreases terrorism or not.”

Cohen challenged the idea that Trump’s actions during his first 100 days would be representative of the rest of his time in office. She said it is common for new presidents to push a lot of executive orders through in their first days in office, but that this doesn’t set a precedent for the rest of their terms.

Trump can’t repeal the Affordable Care Act and not replace it, she said, and he needs to call on “legitimate” policymakers to think of a way to fix the system.

Donnelly, however, said although Republicans need time to craft the new healthcare plan, Trump will be able to fully repeal the ACA during his term. Still, he said the idea Trump would be able to replace it in his first 100 days is a “long shot.”

In an executive order on Jan. 25, Trump called for the immediate construction of a wall along the southern border of the United States. Cohen said she doesn’t think the wall won’t stop undocumented immigration and that it will only add strain on the United States’ budget as Trump never specified a plan for paying for the wall.

“No one is going to pay for the wall,” she said. “I don’t think that Trump is going to be very good for the U.S.’s budget, and I don’t think he’s going to reduce our deficit.”

Donnelly said he sees the wall as not only helpful in solving immigration issues, but as a “built-in economic stimulus package.” It could drastically help with smuggling and trafficking across the border, he added, while also providing work for American laborers.

Regardless, the wall demonstrates the president’s willingness and ability to follow through on his promises, Cuautle said.

“A lot of people doubted Trump,” he said. “Like, ‘Oh, he’s not going to build a wall and all of this stuff.’ But he’s doing it. Like he promised it.”

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Twitter: @amandasvachula