The order appears to run afoul of U.S. laws preventing discrimination based on religious beliefs. In an interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump admitted he wanted to give priority to Christian refugees.
David Brody: "The refugee program that—or the refugee changes you’re looking to make, as it relates to persecuted Christians, do you see them as kind of a priority here?"
President Donald Trump: "Yes."
David Brody: "You do?"
President Donald Trump: "They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know, if you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, very, very—at least very, very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim, you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible. And the reason that was so unfair is that the—everybody was persecuted, in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody, but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So, we are going to help them."
Trump later walked back those comments, saying in a statement Sunday night that his immigration ban was not about religion. But one of Trump’s top advisers said the president explicitly ordered a Muslim ban. This is former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, speaking on Fox News on Saturday.
Rudy Giuliani: "I’ll tell you the whole history of it. So, when he first announced it, he said, 'Muslim ban.' He called me up. He said, 'Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.' I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, with Congressman McCaul, Pete King, whole group of other very expert lawyers on this. And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger! The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal. Perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on."