A spokesman for Barack Obama says the former president “fundamentally disagrees” with discrimination that targets people based on their religion.
The statement issued by Kevin Lewis alluded to but did not specifically mention President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on refugees from several Muslim-majority countries. The White House says the ban isn’t a Muslim ban because dozens of Muslim-majority countries aren’t affected.
Lewis says Obama is “heartened” by the amount of engagement being seen across the country. He’s referring to protests against Trump’s order on immigration and refugees.
Lewis says “American values are at stake.” He’s praising citizens who are exercising constitutional rights to assemble and “have their voices heard.”
Obama has not weighed in on a political issue since leaving office on Jan. 20. He has said he plans to give Trump room to govern but would speak out if Trump violates basic U.S. values.
A growing numbers of Republican lawmakers, meanwhile also were expressing concerns about President Trump’s executive order cracking down on immigration.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina say in a joint statement that “the manner in which these measures were crafted and implemented have greatly contributed to the confusion, anxiety and uncertainty of the last few days.”
Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania says that while he supports increased vetting, “Unfortunately, the initial executive order was flawed — it was too broad and poorly explained.”
And Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas says that he supports thorough vetting, but does not support restricting the rights of lawful permanent residents. Moran adds, “Furthermore, far-reaching national security policy should always be devised in consultation with Congress and relevant government agencies.”
A number of U.S. diplomats also prepared a memo criticizing the temporary travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim majority countries.
In a so-called “dissent cable,” being drafted for State Department leadership, the diplomats say the ban will not make the U.S. safe, runs counter to American values and will fuel anti-American sentiment around the world. They say the ban won’t produce a drop in terror attacks in the U.S., but instead “a drop in international good will towards Americans.”
U.S. officials say several hundred diplomats have signed on and that the cable is expected to be formally submitted later Monday. The officials requested anonymity to disclose internal discussions.
Dissent channel cables are a mechanism for U.S. diplomats to register disagreement internally about U.S. policies.