Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina has joined at least 16 other states in opposing President Donald Trump's immigration order that temporarily blocks immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.
"North Carolina has an interest because America was founded on religious liberty, and this ban violates fundamental norms of religious discrimination," state Attorney General Josh Stein told reporters Tuesday morning. "The ban, frankly, undermines our security by signaling to the world that we somehow think all Muslims are terrorists, when of course that's not the case."
Trump, a Republican, has defended his order saying it is aimed at protecting the United States from terrorism. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear Tuesday evening the administration's request to overturn a lower court order blocking Trump's action.
"There's been no evidence to show this ban will do anything to enhance security," Stein said.
The administration has insisted that the order is not a ban on Muslims, a stance echoed by Robin Hayes, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party.
"It’s not at all about religion. It’s all about terrorism, about violence, about extremism," Hayes said. "There are connections in a number of different directions, but this is the issue – protecting our citizens, protecting them from harm, from terrorism – (that has) nothing to do with religion."
Critics, including Stein, say that the travel ban clearly is aimed at the religious group.
"Both within the writing of the order itself – it gives favor to non-Muslims – and all you have to do is look at what the president has said over the past few months, calling it a Muslim ban, to know the intent behind this ban was to do a racially discriminatory executive order," Stein said.