Less than two weeks into Donald Trump’s administration, former President Barack Obama issued a statement effectively calling Trump’s travel executive order a religious ban and throwing his support behind protests.
“President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement. “In his final official speech as President, he spoke about the important role of citizen and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy – not just during an election but every day.”
The statement came out as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was telling reporters that the impact of the exec order has been overblown and exaggerated by media and protesters and comparing Trump’s move to one made by Obama in 2011.
Trump over the weekend stopped travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, suspended the U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days and suspended the refugee resettlement for Syrians indefinitely. In a statement, POTUS called it “similar” to the 2011 measure “when [Obama] banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.”
In 2011 the State Department stopped processing Iraq refugees for six months in what the media described as a “refugee application slowdown” triggered by the discovery of two al-Qaeda terrorists from Iraq living in Bowling Green, KY. Obama’s action did not include immigrants and tourists.
“Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake,” Obama’s statement continued.
“With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”