Sweet: Obama jabs at Trump’s order; Hultgren has reservations

SHARE Sweet: Obama jabs at Trump’s order; Hultgren has reservations

Former President Barack Obama waves as he boards a helicopter after inauguration ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2017. On Monday, Jan. 30, Obama weighed in through his spokesman on the organized protests against Trump’s executive order barring travel from seven countries, encouraging the demonstrations without making a direct reference to them. | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Follow @lynnsweetWASHINGTON — Only 10 days out of office, former President Barack Obama on Monday jabbed — indirectly, through his spokesman — at President Donald Trump’s travel bans on seven Muslim-majority nations.

Obama, still in California on vacation, also weighed in through his spokesman on the organized protests against Trump, who was inaugurated on Jan. 20, encouraging the demonstrations without making a direct reference to them.

Trump signed an executive order on Friday barring people from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya, nations with Muslim majorities, from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

On Sunday, Trump said the order was not aimed at Muslims. But Democrats, including Obama’s spokesman, are using the term “Muslim ban” as they blister Trump for the order aimed at keeping terrorists out of the U.S.

On Nov. 20, during a press conference at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, Obama said that when he leaves the White House, “I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance.

But Obama did not pledge to muzzle himself.

“As an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle but go to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes.”

Well, it came.

Kevin Lewis, Obama’s post-presidential spokesman, said in a statement that Obama “is 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 Trump White House has been suggesting that Trump’s actions are in line with some decisions Obama made to restrict immigration.

Disagreeing, Lewis said in the statement, “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.”

Most Illinois Democrats — and their brethren nationally — have blasted Trump’s executive order as counterproductive and discriminatory.


Follow @lynnsweetIn Illinois, GOP officials have been silent or slower to speak out. On Sunday, Gov. Bruce Rauner said through a spokesman, “he’s opposed to immigration bans that target any specific religion.”


Rep. Randy Hultgren | Facebook photo

Rep. Randy Hultgren | Facebook photo

The concerns of Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., about Trump’s move are significant, since Hultgren comes out of conservative faith-based politics, where freedom of religious expression are core values.

On Monday, Hultgren, a leader in the House on religious freedom and human rights issues, whose faith informs his views, said Trump’s ban went too far.

“Unfortunately, the President’s executive order is overly broad and its interpretation has been inconsistent and confused. This has led to unintended consequences, like the barring of legal permanent residents and the rejection of Syrian Christians at the airport, a religious minority that was supposed to be protected by the executive order,” Hultgren said.

“Keeping America First means keeping our principles first — both compassion and security,” Hultgren said.


Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a major in the Air National Guard, is focusing on making sure Iraqis who helped U.S. soldiers are not turned away from the U.S.

Kinzinger sent a letter to Trump asking “exempt military interpreters, aides and other allies who risked their lives alongside U.S. personnel in Iraq.”

“. . . These allies risked their own lives, as well as the well-being of their families, to advance America’s security interests in a region where their skill sets and willingness to confront extremism have been invaluable to mission success.”


Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., the dean of the Illinois GOP congressional delegation, is standing with Trump.

He said in statement: “I support a vetting process that ensures every refugee, migrant or foreign national is not a security threat prior to his or her admission to the United States. That’s why I supported bipartisan legislation to stop the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees until our nation’s top security officials can be certain that each individual poses no threat to our homeland.”

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., did not reply to a request for comment.

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