Will Trump's Muslim ban extend to people of other faiths as well? Pence's latest comments spark questions
Posted August 14, 2016
Updated August 15, 2016
Has Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweaked his original Muslim immigration ban to now include people of other faiths as well?
That's a question that has emerged in recent months, as Trump has seemingly amended his earlier statements to frame the potential ban as being more predicated upon geography than on theological persuasion.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's running mate, added intrigue to the discussion during an interview on Monday with Wisconsin talk radio host Charlie Sykes.
Sykes, a vocal Trump critic and a member of the so-called #NeverTrump movement, pressed Pence on Trump's initial call to ban Muslim immigrants.
"How do you reconcile the support for religious rights, religious liberty with the support on ban for Muslims, members of a single religion?" the radio host asked.
Pence responded by noting his early opposition to Trump's proposal. Many outlets have, in fact, noted that Pence tweeted the following message in December 2015: "Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional."
"As the record reflects when that topic came up … I made my position on that clear and the concerns that I expressed," Pence told Sykes.
But it was what Pence said next that had The New York Times questioning whether Trump's policy on Muslims and immigration has indeed evolved.
"The position that Donald Trump is advocating today is that we should temporarily suspend immigration from countries that have been compromised by terrorism, which I think is altogether fitting and appropriate," Pence said.
The vice presidential candidate added that both the FBI and Homeland Security have warned that some people coming from countries like Syria via the refugee program and other channels might have mysterious backgrounds, saying that officials can't always know exactly who they are.
Thus, he advocated for suspending the program from terror-ridden countries to protect American security.
Pence's comments led Sykes to push even harder on the issue, though, asking whether there's no longer a proposed Muslim ban, and whether the touted restrictions would now also impact Christians and Jews, among others.
The governor's response to that more-pointed question seemed to drive home the idea that the restrictions are regional and no longer based on Islamic adherence.
"What you heard in the convention speech from Donald Trump, what we've talked about out on the stump, is that we would temporarily suspend from countries or territories, really … individuals that come from regions or countries that have been compromised by terrorism," he said. "That we would suspend that immigration … until we develop a new vetting system."
Listen to Pence's remarks here.
A spokesman for Pence later said that the candidate would support "safe havens" overseas, as vetting of prospective immigrants continued, according to The New York Times.
It's no secret that Trump's proposed Muslim ban created quite a firestorm. It was so contentious, in fact, that some Islamic groups in the U.S. later started organizing voter drives to push back against the Republican candidate, as I reported in Deseret News National at the end of July.
The Trump campaign seemingly attempted to temper concerns during the Republican National Convention last month when Melania Trump said that her husband intends to represent "all the people" if elected. She specifically mentioned "Christians and Jews and Muslims" in making her claim.
Trump's problems with the Muslim population started last December when he issued a statement calling for a "complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
The Republican businessman also caught the ire of some for comments he made about mosque surveillance as well as a potential database of Muslims. He later said that he wants to keep records of refugees coming into the country.
As Deseret News National previously reported, Trump has since changed his language on the Muslim ban and now favors "extreme vetting" for those individuals who would try to immigrate from countries with a history of terrorism. Pence's most recent comments on the issue appear in line with this evolution.
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