President Barack Obama has weighed in publicly on a political issue for the first time since leaving office – sending out support for demonstrations that have spread across the country in protest of President Donald Trump’s immigration order.
‘President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,’ according to a statement released by his post-presidential office.
‘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 said.
President Obama ‘is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,’ according to a statement released by his post-presidential office.
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He didn’t specifically get into the details of Trump’s flurry of executive actions – including a halt to refugee admissions and a stop to all immigration from citizens of seven countries including Iraq and Syria.
Instead, Obama, who has reserved the right to jump into the political fray when ‘core issues’ are at stake, invoked ‘comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions.’
‘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,’ according to the statement.’
President Obama said at his final press conference he may get involved at ‘certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.
Obama was most likely directly countering a remark made by President Trump: that ‘My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.’
The Washington Post’s fact checker rated this a ‘facile’ claim with three Pinocchios, because the Obama administration didn’t halt Iraq admissions. The administration clamped down on Iraqi admissions in 2011 while it ran names against federal databases, after an Iraqi man who had been granted asylum was found to have have constructed roadside bombs in Iraq.
An Obama aide didn’t respond to a question about where the president was when he issued the statement.
His last known location was on Necker Island, the private owned by British billionaire Richard Branson in the tropical British Virgin Island.
Demonstrators block traffic at the international arrival terminal as they protest against muslim immigration ban at San Francisco International Airport
President Donald Trump accused Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of using ‘fake tears’ to mobilize protesters Sunday as the aftermath of a new refugee travel ban policy took hold
Rania Elias, a Syrian refugee, wipes aways tears as US Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, speaks during a press conference to push for an overturn of President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration to the United States for refugees and some Muslim travelers
POT SHOTS: President Barack Obama headed straight to the golf course to celebrate his first day as a civilian. Obama’s motorcade headed to the ultra-exclusive Porcupine Creek Golf Club in Rancho Mirage, California about 11.30am on Saturday where the former president played 18 holes
A LA CARTE: President Obama hit the golf course in Rancho Mirage, California after leaving the White House
Soon after leaving the White House, President Obama visited Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. It isn’t known where he was when he authorized his first statement since leaving the White House
President Barack Obama waves as he leaves after his final press conference at the White House January 18
White House press secretary Sean Spicer didn’t respond to multiple shouted questions at his daily briefing about Obama’s statement, which broke after the briefing had started.
Obama said during his final White House press conference that while he planned to stay on the sidelines during the Trump years, he reserved the right to become a vocal advocate at ‘certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.’
Obama put into that category ‘efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them someplace else when they love this country.’
‘They are our kids’ friends and their classmates, and are now entering into community colleges or, in some cases, serving in our military,’ the outgoing president said.
‘The notion that we would just arbitrarily, or because of politics, punish those kids when they didn’t do anything wrong themselves I think would be something that would merit me speaking out.’
For two consecutive weekends, protesters have massed in Washington, D.C. and other cities to protest actions by Trump.
The Democratic opposition continues to organize itself. Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer got emotional at a press conference with Syrian refugees meant to protest Trump’s order. Trump mocked Schumer on Monday for shedding ‘fake tears.’
‘Who’s his acting coach?’ Trump asked.
Obama criticized any immigration policy that discriminates by religion in mid-November after Democrats lost the White House.
‘And so we have to, each of us, do our part. And the United States has to step up and do its part. And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution – that’s shameful,’ he said.’
‘That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.’
Trump’s order applies to seven mostly Muslim countries, but provides exceptions for those suffering religious discrimination. Trump in defending the policy has invoked Christians getting murdered by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.