President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his controversial travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries, saying he would never allow a situation in which citizens of these countries were not allowed to travel to the United States.
“I have not issued a travel ban, I have not suspended entry of any nationality,” Trump said on ABC News’ “This Week” during a town hall event.
“I will not suspend entry for any nation, for any religion, for the people of those countries.
It’s not fair.
It doesn’t go far enough.”
Trump was asked on CNN if he would ever “immediately suspend entry” of Muslims from countries that he says have ties to terrorism.
“Well, I’ve said from the very beginning that I would never, in any situation whatsoever, allow people to come into this country that are not vetted and that have no relationship to us,” he said.
“If that was to happen, it would be a disaster for us and it would go against everything we stand for.”
Trump did not answer a question from CNN’s Jake Tapper about whether he would allow Muslims to enter the country.
“You know, Jake, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals, but it’s not a good situation,” he replied.
Trump also took a swipe at the Justice Department, accusing it of violating the First Amendment by not enforcing a ban on the travel of religious minorities to the U.S.
He also took aim at the travel ban’s critics, saying they are the “most dishonest” in the country, while pointing out that the Justice and Treasury Departments had been in contact with Congress.
“We have had meetings with the attorneys general of all three of the states that are being sued and the attorney general of Maryland, who has said that the executive order was issued with the full knowledge and consent of the state attorneys general, and he has said there is no basis to that,” Trump continued.
“So we have had a very good relationship with the Attorney General of Maryland.
He’s a very strong attorney general, so we’re happy to have him here, and we’re also happy to see that he’s got his people out there, that they’re out there working very hard, and they’re doing everything they can to make sure the order is being implemented.”
Trump added that the “biggest issue” for him is that “people that are already here, they’re coming to our country, they don’t want to go back to their home country.”
“People that are coming in illegally, they want to stay,” he added.
“It’s not going away, it’s getting worse,” Trump insisted.
“And you know what?
They’re coming in.
And they’re going to start coming in, because there’s no way in hell that we’re going back to where we were.”
Watch Trump’s full interview above.
Trump’s administration has faced a barrage of criticism over its travel ban after Trump issued a revised version in late March that lifted some restrictions on travelers from seven predominantly Arab countries and put restrictions on refugees coming to the country for at least a year.
The travel ban is set to go into effect later this month, and Trump has faced widespread criticism for his initial order, which temporarily halted entry of refugees, migrants, and visitors from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
Critics of Trump’s revised travel ban have charged it discriminates against Muslims, while the Justice department has said the travel restriction has a “neutral impact” on security.