WASHINGTON — Indian American Republican Governor Nikki Haley Jan. 13 faced flak from the supporters of her party's presidential candidate Donald Trump as she cited her family's immigrant experience to warn against rhetoric that could make hard-working people feel unwelcome in the U.S.
During her nine-minute Republican response to President Barack Obama's last State of the Union address, Haley recounted her own Indian American heritage to call for fixing the country's broken immigration system.
"During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation," the South Carolina governor said.
"No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country," Haley said without mentioning Trump by name.
"We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion.
“Just like we have for centuries," Haley said.
Trump, who has led the Republican race in most national polls for months, said after the Paris terror attacks he would consider creating a national database of American Muslims and later called for a temporary halt to Muslims entering the United States.
Haley's remarks apparently made Trump's supporters upset, which was best reflected in the series of tweets made by Ann Coulter, a conservative commentator and a strong supporter of the Republican candidate.
"Trump should deport Nikki Haley," tweeted Coulter.
"Nikki Haley says 'welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of religion.' Translation: let in all the Muslims," she tweeted.
"The only way to keep out Muslims terrorists, is to keep out Muslim immigrants," she said.
Conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham tweeted, "The country is lit up w/a populist fever & the GOP (Republican) responds by digging in, criticizing the GOP candidates dominating polls?! NOT SMART."
Politico reported that Haley's response seemed aimed directly at Trump as she tried to distance Republicans from some of his comments without naming him directly.
There was no immediate response from Trump.