Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” while discussing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said, “You don’t have a constitutional right to come to America.”
Partial transcript as follows:
BASH: Let’s talk about the response that Mr. Trump had to the Orlando shooting. He said he would — quote — “suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is proven history of terrorism,” and also focused on the parents of the shooter, who emigrated from Afghanistan. Does this mean that Mr. Trump is now in favor of a ban on all immigration from certain countries?
SESSIONS: He simply said — and the way I understand it, and what I think is that we should slow down. Let’s have a pause and begin to analyze where the threats are coming from. We have a toxic ideology, hopefully very small, within Islam. Certainly, most people, Muslims don’t agree with this violent jihadist approach. And we need to figure out a better way to identify that. We have written the president, Senator Cruz and I, months ago, saying give us the background of the 580 terrorists that have been convicted since 9/11…
SESSIONS: … and see if we can’t see a pattern, so we can do a better job of blocking the entry of those. So, slowing down, I think, is a good idea.
BASH: What does that mean? Are you going to look specifically at certain countries? Are you going to look at certain religions? How would that actually work in practical terms?
SESSIONS: Dana, I think you — first, you look at backgrounds. Look at the countries where we have a — of this 580 terrorists, about 95 percent or so are from Islamic countries.
BASH: So, for example, give me some names of countries that you would look at first.
SESSIONS: Well, all I can tell you is, the public data that we have had indicate that there are quite a number of countries in that region that have sent a large number of people that have become terrorists. And so…
BASH: Are you talking about Saudi Arabia? Or are you talking about…
SESSIONS: Well, it all depends. A lot of it is on population.
SESSIONS: Like, Pakistan has a number, people from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen.
BASH: So, you would consider and Mr. Trump would consider banning immigration temporarily completely from those countries?
SESSIONS: Not completely. I mean, you have got diplomats and business people who have been traveling for a long time. But tightening up that, pausing on the normal flow here until we get a good database the administration has refused to give us and protect the American people, that’s not unreasonable. You don’t have a constitutional right to come to America. We respect your religion in this country. We will defend your right to free exercise of religion, but a person with an ideology that goes beyond normal religion that believes you can kill gays, that kills people who change their view about the religion they have, that is a dangerous thing, and we do not have to admit people like that.
BASH: But the killer in Orlando, the Fort Hood shooter, the San Bernardino shooter, they were all Americans. They were born in America. So how would this solution stop the last several massacres, including the biggest one in this country last week?
SESSIONS: Well, their parents came here with an ideology, and it seemed to have impacted them. For example, in Orlando, the parent was close to the Taliban, a radical element that we are fighting right now in Afghanistan.
BASH: But his father lived without breaking any laws that we know of his entire life in this country.
SESSIONS: I’m just saying, you get two people from Afghanistan, one of them believes in the United States, one of them believes in a democratic republic, and one of them believes in the Taliban. We can’t admit everybody in the world. Why don’t we admit those who have the greatest chance of being prosperous in the United States, to work harmoniously with us? We don’t have a duty to admit people who may be at risk or may place Americans at risk.
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