Former President Barack Obama has released a statement addressing the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump's executive order banning immigrants and refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Obama signaled that he is both against the ban and supportive of the protesters who are currently calling for its retraction.
On Jan. 30, Obama's spokesperson Kevin Lewis released a statement regarding the executive order on the former president's behalf.
"President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country," Lewis said, according to Vox. "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."
On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order temporarily blocking any U.S. admission of all refugees. The order placed a travel ban on those traveling from several Muslim-majority countries while making exceptions for Christians, The Washington Post reports.
The executive order has also impacted green card holders who are traveling from the designated countries. White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told NBC News that green card holders from these countries will be "subjected to further screening."
Accusations that the Trump administration has imposed a Muslim ban have resulted in protesters gathering in airports nationwide. In his statement, Lewis signaled that Obama approves of these demonstrations.
"Citizens exercising their Constitutional rights 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," Lewis continued.
The statement concluded: "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."
On Jan. 29, Trump released a statement asserting that his executive order did not constitute a Muslim ban, CNN reports.
"To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting," Trump said. "This is not about religion -- this is about terror and keeping our country safe."
Earlier that day, Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona released a joint statement blasting the executive order.
"This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country," Graham and McCain said. "That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security."
Trump fired back on social media, tweeting out that Graham and McCain "should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III."