For the first time, former President Barack Obama has openly criticized President Donald Trump for his immigration executive orders.
“The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” said a statement released by Kevin Lewis, spokesman for the former president, reports CNN.
In his first statement since leaving office, Obama also praised protesters fighting against the orders.
“President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,” the statement reads. “Citizens exercising their Constitutional right 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.”
His statement sparked controversy.
“Didn’t care about American values when he did the exact same thing back in 2011 though?” wrote one woman on Daily Mail’s Facebook page, echoing the White House’s comparison between Trump’s order and Obama’s 2011 policies.
Obama temporarily imposed extreme vetting in 2011 on Iraqi refugees applying for visas to the U.S. after two were tied to a bomb-making scheme.
In contrast, Trump temporarily banned citizens from seven Muslim countries and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees from entering the country, while giving preferential treatment to Christian refugees.
Obama was quick to note the differences in his statement.
“With regard to comparisons to [former] 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 or religion,” the statement reads.
Traditionally, former presidents do not criticize their successor — something some also criticized Obama for.
“He has no respect for the office of the Presidency,” said one woman.
Others defended Obama.
“He is a citizen of the US and should be entitled to say whatever he wants, just like Trump did when Obama was in office, turn around is fair play!” wrote another person on CNN’s Facebook page.
“Glad that Pres. Obama, now citizen Obama is willing to stand with the majority of Americans who are against Trumps hate and racism,” chimed in another.
Sources: CNN, CBN News, Daily Mail/Facebook, CNN/Facebook / Photo credit: Eric Drost via Flickr