Rep. Keith Ellison: ‘If They Can Ban Muslims, Why Can’t They Ban Mormons...?’

By Melanie Arter | January 30, 2017 | 4:27 PM EST

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said President Donald Trump’s 90-day ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries is “a religiously based ban,” and “if they can ban Muslims, why can’t they ban Mormons.”

“It is a religiously based ban, which is something that our -- our Constitution says Congress shall make no law establishing a religion or abridge the free exercise thereof. This is a violation of equal protection. It’s a religiously based ban. If they can ban Muslims, why can’t they ban Mormons, why can’t they ban Seventh-day Adventists, why can’t move into ethnic groups?” Ellison asked.

 



Host John Dickerson compared Trump’s travel ban to what former President Jimmy Carter did after the Iranian hostage crisis and when former President Barack Obama paused the processing of Iraqi refugees.

“Congressman, the president’s defenders would say that, after the Iranian hostage crisis, Jimmy Carter asked Iranian students to report to immigration offices. During the Obama administration, the State Department paused Iraqi refugee processing because of terrorism concerns, so that what Donald Trump is doing here, it may be bigger, but it’s in keeping with what previous presidents have done,” Dickerson said.

“You know what? We have never had a religious-based ban before, and they can’t deny that this is a Muslim ban. It is a Muslim ban. On the campaign trail, he said he wanted a Muslim ban. He said on national television that there would be other religious groups that would receive priority. This is a Muslim ban,” Ellison said.

“Rudy Giuliani, who helped him write it, said that they started out with the intention of a Muslim ban, and then they sort of languaged it up so to try to avoid that label, but it is a religiously based ban, which is something that our -- our Constitution says Congress shall make no law establishing a religion or abridge the free exercise thereof. This is a violation of equal protection. It’s a religiously based ban,” he added.

“If they can ban Muslims, why can’t they ban Mormons, why can’t they ban Seventh-day Adventists, why can’t move into ethnic groups?” Ellison said.

“Congressman, but, in this case, they have named countries which were named on lists already by the Obama administration,” said Dickerson. “And if it were a Muslim ban, why wouldn’t they ban Pakistan and Indonesia and Turkey and Egypt? None of those countries are affected.”

“Well, according to Reince Priebus, they’re working on it, right? That’s what I heard him just tell you, that they might just add more, but the fact is, is that terrorism, a horrible scourge on the planet, comes from all kinds of places, some where the majority of the population is Muslim, some not, and it even comes from within our country, and the fact is that we cannot make a religious-based distinction,” Ellison said.

“We have to go based on the evidence that we find that people are actually engaged in,” Ellison added. “And the fact is that we cannot make a religious-based distinction. We have to go based on the evidence that we find that people are actually engaged in.

“And let me just tell you, when you try to ban refugees, these folks go through an 18-to-24-month vetting as it is. The fact is, is that Syrian -- if you talk about banning Syrians, about three-quarters of those folks are women and children. A full third of them are kids under 12 years old,” he said.

“Now, as the world is watching children, Syrian children being -- dying in war, he is saying those children have no place of refuge in America, and I find that un-American,” Ellison said.