WASHINGTON -  Several US lawmakers belonging to the Republican Party have questioned President Donald Trump’s executive order to halt admission to the U.S. by refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, even as their top leader -- House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan -- continued to defend it.

Ryan was among the first lawmakers on Friday to back Trump’s order, and his office reiterated his support on Saturday. “This is not a religious test and it is not a ban on people of any religion,” his spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

The order blocks citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya from entering the country for at least 90 days. It also bans refugees from anywhere in the world for 120 days – and from Syria indefinitely. Trump said that the goal is to screen out “radical Islamic terrorists” and that priority for admission would be given to Christians.

Republicans defending the executive order did so pointed to an exception for people already in transit and argued that some elements, including the religious minority preference, would not immediately be implemented. But as cable news footage brought scenes all day Saturday of chaos at airports around the country, where business travelers, students and even legal U.S. residents were being barred entry, other Republicans began weighing in.

“This is ridiculous,” Republican Congressman Charlie Dent said. “I guess I understand what his intention is, but unfortunately the order appears to have been rushed through without full consideration. You know, the many, many nuances of immigration policy that can be life or death for people around the world.”

Dent, who represents a large Syrian community in the Allentown area, said he was contacted Saturday by a constituent who had family members turned away early in the morning at Philadelphia International Airport. Six family members who had secured visas and even bought a house in Pennsylvania arrived on a Qatar Airways flight but were returned back within hours, he said.

Dent called on the Trump administration to halt immediately action on the order. “This family was sent home despite having all their paperwork in order,” Dent continued, “so this 90-day ban could imperil the lives of this family and potentially others, and it’s unacceptable, and I urge the administration to halt enforcement of this order until a more thoughtful and deliberate policy can be reinstated.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a Republican, said Saturday that he backs the order but hopes for some resolution for those who were in transit as the order was announced. “Pausing the intake of refugees from terror hotspots is the right call to keep America safe,” Royce said. “I hope cases of individuals with visas traveling as this executive action went into effect – including some who served alongside U.S. troops – will be resolved quickly.”

Some conservatives worried that denying entry to permanent residents and green card holders could violate the Constitution. Many worried privately that the order will face significant challenges in court. Congressman Justin Amash was among the few Republican members to air his concerns publicly. Amash posted on Twitter that the order “overreaches” and “undermines” the Constitution.

“It’s not lawful to ban immigrants on basis of nationality,” Amash tweeted. “If the president wants to change immigration law, he must work with Congress.” Republican Senator Ben Sasse credited Trump with properly focusing on protecting the country’s borders and said it is necessary to connect “jihadi terrorism” with Islam and particular countries. However, he also noted that the order is “too broad.”

“If we send a signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and that this is America versus one religion,” Sasse said. “Our generational fight against jihadism requires wisdom.”

The statement from Ryan’s office came after several requests seeking comment on how the order differs from the Muslim ban that Ryan rejected during the campaign, whether such a ban is in line with American values and if Ryan is concerned that the order is a first step towards a religious litmus test.

Ryan has been a consistent advocate for increased vetting standards and has frequently said he opposes a complete ban on Muslims entering the country. “Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle. It’s a founding principle of this country,” Ryan told reporters following a closed-door morning meeting at the Republican National Committee in December of 2015. “This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

The majority of Republicans in Congress were silent on the order Saturday – including Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, The Washington Post said. Calls and emails to more than a dozen top Republican lawmakers were not returned, it said, adding that only one Republican senator contacted for this story had responded at the time of publication.

Conservative advocacy groups, meanwhile, generally supported Trump’s actions. In an interview Saturday with The Washington Post, Faith and Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed defended Trump’s executive order, calling it an “entirely prudent move” and rejecting the notion that it amounts to a ban on Muslims or infringes on religious liberties.

“It makes perfect sense not to try to build the airplane in the air,” said Reed, who advocated hitting “the pause button” on current practices on immigration and refugee policies, over concerns about terrorism. Congressional aides who did respond generally insisted that Trump was merely adopting a policy that passed the House last year with a veto-proof majority. The seven countries named in the order are currently included in the list of as “countries of concern” by the Department of Homeland Security. People who have traveled to or lived in those countries were already subject to additional scrutiny when applying for visa waivers.

One senior Republican aide said in an email that the executive order was “narrow, a faint shadow of the policy Trump ran on.” The silence is a major departure from the outrage many Republicans expressed when Trump floated a Muslim ban during the campaign. At the time, several leading Republicans, including Ryan and McConnell said proposals to bar visitors based on religion are “completely inconsistent” with American values.

Statements trickled in slowly Saturday as lawmakers and government agencies scrambled to make sense of how the order would be applied, the report said. Confusion over the directive played out at airports across the country as immigration officials attempted to decide how to handle refugees and travellers from those seven nations who were already in transit or on the ground when the execvutive order was issued.

Several news outlets reported instances of travelers being detained in airports, including Hameed Khalid Darweesh, a 53 year old Iraqi man who spent several years acting as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in Iraw. Darweesh was released from detention in New York’s John F. Kennedy airport after two New York Democrats, Congressman Jerry Nadler and Nydia Valazquez, intervened on his behalf. Several Congressional aides who spoke on condition of anonymity said Saturday that the executive order itself does not single out a preference for Christians, and the temporary travel ban is focused on areas where terrorism is a particular concern.

 One senior aide dismissed as “false” accusations that the order constitutes a blanket policy against Muslims or Muslim-majority nations.

The House voted last year on legislation to suspend the admission of refugees from Syria and Iraq until the White House could certify that no person entering the United States would pose a security threat. Democrats blocked a vote on the legislation in the Senate and it ultimately failed to reach President Barack Obama’s desk.

Aides also said it is not uncommon for an administration to prioritize refugee requests on the basis of religious persecution. However, since the beginning of the Syrian civil war and the rise of the Islamic State, many more Muslims than Christians have been killed or displaced because of the violence.

Additionally, a 2015 Washington Post poll found that 78 percent of Americans favoured equal consideration for refugees regardless of religion.

Ryan said Friday that while he supports the refugee resettlement program, he thinks it is time to “reevaluate and strengthen the visa vetting process.”

“President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country,” the speaker said Friday.

Other Republicans offered similar support for the order on national security grounds.