While on the campaign trail for the presidential primary, President-elect Donald Trump proposed an immigration ban for those coming from “Muslim countries” following the deadly December terrorist attack in San Bernardino. Just afterward, Trump clarified the ban would be “temporary.” He has since reinforced his support for a ban and called for surveillance of Muslim communities after the Brussels terror attack in March.
Trump also proposed a registry of American Muslims in 2015. Many vehemently disagreed, noting the constitutional and political abuses of such overreach, especially on the basis of religion. Kris Kobach, Trump adviser and Kansas secretary of state, informed Reuters that a national database was still on the table, specifically for immigrants from Muslim countries and individuals with ties to terror.
During Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-Ala.) confirmation hearing to serve as attorney general, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Sessions whether or not he agreed with Trump’s proposed ban on the basis of religion.
Sessions corrected Leahy, saying that the ban would be by country, not necessarily religion. He also touted Trump’s proposition for more intense vetting in the immigration process, though Leahy already stated that immigrants went through background checks for terrorism.
The senator clarified his own stance on the matter, stating that he was concerned a person’s religious views would not be considered when applying for citizenship, as he stated that there are some that are harmful to the safety of the country.
However, Sessions responded with the following:
I have no belief and do not support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States. We have great Muslim citizens who have contributed in so many different ways. And America, as I said in my remarks at the occasion that we discussed it in committee, are great believers in religious freedom and the right of people to exercise their religious beliefs.