In his first statement since leaving the White House, former president Barack Obama issued a statement supporting protesters who have filed into streets and airports around the country to protest Trump’s executive order, which temporarily bans visitors and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
In the brief statement, released by his spokesperson Kevin Lewis, Obama praised protesters for “exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard.”
The former president also pushed back against the argument that Trump’s current executive order, which many have called a Muslim ban, is no different than President Obama’s 2011 temporary restriction on processing new refugee applications from Iraq.
“The president fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals of their faith or religion,” the statement read.
The statement also marks the first time that Obama has criticized the Trump administration, having pledged before he left office to speak about the new president’s policies “where I think our core values may be at stake,” he told reporters at his final press conference in office.
In his first week in office, Trump has signed several controversial executive orders regarding health care, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the U.S.-Mexico Border, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and “sanctuary cities” among others.