Breaking his silence only 10 days after he left office, former President Barack Obama has backed nationwide protests against President Donald Trump’s Refugee Order on Monday.
In a strongly worded statement issued through a spokesman, Kevin Lewis, and reported by networks, Mr. Obama said he was “heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country”.
“Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.
“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.”
The former president rejected Mr. Trump’s defence on Sunday that his executive orders restricting travel from seven countries were “similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months”.
“The 2011 order did not ban visas for refugees, who by definition don’t travel on visas.
“It tightened the review process for citizens of Iraq and for refugees from the six other countries, while Trump’s is a near-blanket order applying to nearly all residents and citizens of all seven countries.”
Former presidents walk a fine line between staying politically engaged and avoiding knocking their successor.
President George W. Bush, for example, remained markedly silent on politics during Mr. Obama’s eight years in office.
But Mr. Obama’s relationship with Mr. Trump is different, and Monday’s statement made clear that the former president will stay engaged and outspoken on political action.
Mr. Trump’s order temporarily banned immigration from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia and indefinitely stopped Syrian refugees from coming to the United States.
The White House has compared Mr. Trump’s action to what President Obama did in 2011 when “he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months”.
It was crafted in response to two Iraqi refugees implicated in a bomb making scheme and while it did not outright ban refugees from coming to the U.Saudi, it did increase the amount of vetting each Iraqi refugee received.
Mr. Trump defended his executive order on Monday in the wake of protests across the country.
He said that America would “continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression” but would “do so while protecting our own citizens and border”.
“I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria.
“My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering,” Mr. Trump said.