Barack Obama said he was "heartened" by the protests against Donald Trump's travel ban
Barack Obama issued a short statement through his spokesman condemning the ban which bars Syrian refugees from the US and suspends travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, sparking protests at home and abroad.
The former president’s spokesman Kevin Lewis said Mr Obama disagrees with discrimination against people based on their religion.
President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country
Barack Obama's spokesman Kevin Lewis
Mr Lewis said: “President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country.
“In his final official speech as President, he spoke about the important role of citizen and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy- not just during an election but every day.
“Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.
“With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discrimination against individuals because of their faith or religion.”
During Mr Obama’s final press conference as president he said a number of issues may prompt him to wade into politics again.
He said: “There’s a difference between the normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.
“I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. I put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise.
Donald Trump signed the executive order on Friday
Barack Obama said he disagrees with discrimination against people based on their religion
“I put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press. And for me at least I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them somewhere else, when they love this country.”
The executive order, which was signed on Friday, put a 120-day hold on allowing refugees into the country, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 90-day bar on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Mr Trump says the ban will help keep Americans safe and he has cited recent attacks by Islamist militants in several European countries.
He has rejected the executive order being described as a Muslim ban.
Protests erupted in the US over the travel ban
In a Facebook statement he said: “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting.
“This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.
“We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.”
The billionaire has defended the order highlighting the same countries were identified by the Obama administration as a source of terror in 2011.
But the Obama administration has rejected attempts by Mr Trump to draw comparisons to the former president’s move to impose more stringent checks on Iraqi nationals after two Iraqis were charged with terror offences in Kentucky.
The UK Reacts To Trump's 'Muslim' Travel Ban
Mon, January 30, 2017
President Trump signed an executive order banning immigration to the USA from seven 'muslim' countries. This led to protests across America and, now, the UK.
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A woman dress as the Statue of Liberty during a protest in Glasgow against US President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban on refugees and people from seven mainly-Muslim countries
Former Obama administration officials have denied that any ban on Iraqi refugee admissions was put in place under Mr Obama.
Mr Obama’s comments come as chaos broke out over the weekend as border and customs officials struggled to put the order into practice amid loud protests at major US airports. Federal judges blocked deportation of those detained under the order.
Several other state attorneys general, including those from California and New York, have said they are considering whether to file their own lawsuits.
The ban also sparked protests in Britain, with a petition calling for Mr Trump’s planned state visit to be scrapped receiving more than one million signatures.