President Trump defends Muslim ban, pledges more immigration actions
Defending his recent executive order on immigration, President Donald Trump on Thursday said that ‘there are people who seek to enter the country for the purpose of spreading violence’ or ‘oppressing other people based upon their faith’.
At the National Prayer Breakfast, a high-profile event bringing together faith leaders, politicians and dignitaries, the President even pledged to take more immigration actions in the name of religious liberty.
"In the coming days we will develop a system to help ensure that those admitted into our country fully embrace our values of religious and personal liberty and that they reject any form of oppression and discrimination," Trump said.
Trump had last week signed an executive order that bars incoming travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations -- Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya for 90 days. The move sparked mass protests across the country, including at major international airports.
Trump has argued that the decision is in the interest of Americans and to keep the country safe.
Meanwhile, LGBTQ groups have been anxious that the President can use his executive powers to curb legal advances they have made. Emily Hecht-McGowan, chief policy officer for the Family Equality Council, said that she was "anticipating more to come," noting that some draft documents have been circulating, suggesting plans for a more sweeping order.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Thursday, however, said that ‘there's nothing new on that front’.
Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced that the President will leave intact a 2014 executive order that protects workers for federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ discrimination, saying in a statement that Trump ‘continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election’.
Religious conservatives, who saw a series of defeats on same-sex marriage, abortion and other issues under former President Barack Obama, have been bolstered by Trump's win.
In a letter last year to Roman Catholics, Trump pledged, "I will defend your religious liberties and the right to fully and freely practice your religion, as individuals, business owners and academic institutions."