- U.S. president defended controversial executive order
- He said it’s not a Muslim ban as media would like people to believe
- He stressed safety, not religion, as basis for the order
- He also promised to help those suffering in Syria
UNITED STATES – Amid the uproar by critics over his Executive Order banning immigration from seven countries, U.S. President Donald Trump explained that it has nothing to do with religion.
In a statement he released on Sunday, Trump denied that his order enforced a Muslim ban and said he was merely replicating his predecessor Barack Obama when the latter banned Iraqi refugees back in 2011.
“My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” he said. “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”
The seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — were noted by the past administration as “countries of concern”; with Obama even signing a law in December 2015 requiring those who could previously enter the U.S. without a visa to now apply for one if they had visited those countries beforehand.
Noting that several Muslim-majority nations in the world are exempt from the ban, Trump said the U.S. will again issue visas once they have created enough safeguards to prevent the entry of terrorists.
“There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days,” he said.
As for the issue of refugees fleeing Syria, Trump vowed to “find ways” to help people fleeing the conflict.
“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,” he said.