Obama "Heartened" by Protests Across Country
The former president "fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion," according to a Monday statement.
Former President Barack Obama on Monday released his first statement since leaving the Oval Office, saying he is "heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country."
After a weekend of nationwide protests in response to President Donald Trump's immigration and travel ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Obama's spokesman Kevin Lewis released a statement on his behalf.
“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,” read the statement, which also referenced the contents of Obama's farewell speech, which he delivered on Jan. 10 in Chicago.
"In his final official speech as President, he spoke about the important role of citizen and how all Americans have a responsibility to be guardians of our democracy — not just during an election but every day," the 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."
Trump signed an executive order Friday that led to reports of travelers being detained or barred from entering the U.S. On Saturday and Sunday, demonstrators flooded U.S. airports around the country, including LAX, to decry the detention of travelers from countries on the list, which includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
Trump defended his ban on Monday, blaming the chaos seen at the airports on a combination of Sunday night's Delta computer outage, protesters and "the tears" of Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who called Trump's ban "un-American" in an emotional speech on Saturday.
"Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage, protesters and the tears of Senator Schumer," Trump tweeted early Monday. "Secretary Kelly said that all is going well with very few problems. MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!"
President Trump added that there is "nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country," saying it was a big part of his campaign. He defended the speedy timing of putting the ban into effect, tweeting that if it had been announced with a week's notice, "the 'bad' would rush into our country. A lot of bad 'dudes' out there!"
See Obama's statement in full below.