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Trump's Homeland Security Head Opposes Muslim Registry

Retired Gen. John Kelly, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security, opposes Trump's ideas of starting a federal Muslim registry and considering religious heritage when accepting or rejecting immigrants, he told a Senate committee on Jan. 10.

Kelly stood before the Senate Homeland Security Committee and answered affirmatively when Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan asked if he feels that "putting a mosque under generalized surveillance or establishing a Muslim database, two proposals that were discussed by President-elect Trump, would raise serious constitutional issues under the free exercise clause of the first amendment and the equal protection clause under the fifth and fourteenth," according to The Hill.

As far as he understands the Muslim registry proposal, Kelly would not support forcing Muslims to sign up for it as it stands, he said.

"Our success in Iraq -- certainly my time in Iraq -- was because we reached out with people across the spectrum of society, all of whom were members of the Islamic faith," he said.

Kelly also agreed with Peters that, as a member of Trump's administration, he would work to make sure that Muslim heritage and other religious criteria "does not become a basis for counterterrorism or law enforcement policy."

"I don't think it is ever appropriate to focus on something like religion as the only factor," the retired general said upon answering the question.

Trump has gone back and forth on whether or not he would implement a Muslim registry, though he has said that he would "absolutely" put a database into place when such a program was described to him, according to ABC News.

"There should be a lot of systems, beyond database, we should have a lot of systems, and today you can do it," Trump said at the time. "But right now we have to have a border, we have to have strength, we have to have a wall. And we cannot let what's happening to this country happen."

A committee also questioned Trump's pick for Attorney General, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, on Jan. 10, notes Reuters. Though Sessions has in the past supported stricter vetting of immigrants and refugees, he said during his hearing that he would oppose any measures to ban Muslims from entering the country.

Sources: The Hill, ABC News, Reuters / Photo Credit: Ash Carter/Flickr

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