Politics

Former President Obama Speaks Out For the First Time

For the first time since leaving office, former President Barack Obama spoke out against President Donald Trump's executive order barring immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries on Monday.

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The former president also distanced his immigration policies from Trump's in the statement, noting that Obama "fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion."

Trump attempted to draw parallels between his approach to immigration to the former president's in a statement released Sunday, arguing that his "policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months."

Though the former president did review the vetting procedure for Iraqi refugees and people applying for Special Immigrant Visas in 2011 — which seemed to result in a slowdown of refugees from the country — the action was not a blanket ban, and the review "came in response to specific threat information, including the arrest in Kentucky of two Iraqi refugees," Foreign Policy reported.

Obama expressed support for people who participated in demonstrations against the travel ban.

In a statement, a spokesperson said Obama was "heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country."

"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," the statement continued.

Over the weekend, protestors gathered at airport terminals and outside federal immigration offices around the country, demanding the release of individuals from the seven affected countries who arrived in the U.S. as the executive order took effect. A federal judge issued a temporary stay for part of the executive action on Saturday after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of recent travelers.