Obama Breaks Silence to Back Travel Ban Protesters: ‘American Values Are at Stake’

“The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith,” spokesperson says

Last Updated: January 30, 2017 @ 12:23 PM

Barack Obama issued his first statement post-presidency on Monday, expressing support with those protesting President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

Issued by Obama’s spokesperson Kevin Lewis, the statement says Obama “fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith.”

“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 said.

On Friday, Trump signed an executive order calling for a 90-day ban on the admission of any citizen of Iran or six other Muslim-majority countries even if they have valid visas. The order was met with protests across the country over the weekend.

Trump’s executive order does allow for exceptions, noting that “the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.”

Obama encouraged those protesting, saying that he is “heartened by the level of engagement,” and that Americans have a “responsibility” to protect the country’s values.

Read the full statement below:

President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country. In his final official speech as President, he spoke about the important role of citizens and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy — not just during an election but every day.

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.

With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve hard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith.