The demonstrations roiling the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the White House show “the beauty of America” in the way its people speak up, Maine’s senior senator said Monday.

There’s nothing like it in places such as North Korea, Russia and Iran, said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican.

But Collins still feels unsettled that “our country seems to be really divided right now in a way I have not seen before.”

She said part of it is that many people are unwilling to accept the results of the Nov. 8 election that put Trump in the presidency, a natural consequence of a tight contest in which nearly 3 million more votes went to his opponent than he racked up.

But part of it, too, is a reaction to the policies that Trump has promulgated, including an immigration order  for which Collins has sharp criticism.

“It is not good for America when people feel the government is not theirs,” Collins said, adding that she’s had people come up to her with tears in their eyes, distraught over the outcome of the election.

Protests, she said, “give people a way to express their concerns” and ensure that political leaders take note.

Collins said she hopes that people who are agitated will get involved in politics and public service so they translate their feelings into action.

She said people need to recognize there is a robust system of checks and balances in the country that limits what a president can do.

Collins said the immigration order, which bars refugees from entering the country for 120 days and prevents anyone from seven majority Muslim countries from coming for 90 days, among other terms, is “way overly broad” and needs revision.

Moreover, she said, its religious test that will give Christians a priority is “contrary to our Constitution and our American values.”

Collins said she is especially concerned that many Iraqis who put their lives on the line to help American troops as translators and bodyguards — positions that required extensive vetting to begin with — are lumped in with everyone else.

For them to be “held up in our airports,” she said, “really concerns me.”

She said there is no doubt that “better screening” of refugees is necessary, because some bad actors may try to slip in, but it’s also important to keep in mind that “a lot of those refugees are true refugees” just trying to escape the nightmare of war in Syria.


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