Fact Check: Jen Psaki Falsely Claims Trump’s Travel Ban Was a ‘Muslim Ban’

Jen Psaki (Jim Watson / AFP / Getty)
Jim Watson / AFP / Getty

CLAIM: President Donald Trump’s travel ban on terror-prone countries was a “Muslim ban.”

VERDICT: FALSE. The travel ban never targeted Muslims; was expanded to include non-Muslim countries; and was upheld by the Supreme Court.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in her first briefing Wednesday that newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden had issued an executive order to “put an end to the Muslim ban, a policy written in religious animus and xenophobia.”

In so doing, she repeated a false claim that Biden made repeatedly throughout the 2020 presidential election, and which Democrats had made for years as well.

Breitbart News fact-checked this claim by Biden last year:

[T]here is no “Muslim ban,” and there never was. What Democrats called a “Muslim ban” was an executive order issued on January 27, 2017, that barred tourism and immigration from seven countries previously identified by the Obama-Biden administration as being particularly vulnerable to terrorism, partly because their internal record-keeping was substandard. These seven nations — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen — happened to be Muslim-majority countries, but there was no blanket ban on Muslims from other Middle Eastern countries or large Muslim countries like Indonesia.

Later, the executive order was updated, or superseded, by subsequent orders. A second version dropped Iraq from the list; a third version added North Korea and Venezuela, two countries without substantial Muslim populations whatsoever. The Supreme Court tossed legal challenges to the travel ban in October 2017. Several more countries — including non-Muslim ones — were added in January 2020. The “Muslim ban” exists only in the minds of Democrats and left-wing journalists.

In December 2015, then-candidate Trump did suggest “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” He made that suggestion after radical Islamic terrorists launched brutal terror attacks in Paris, France, that November — with at least one hiding among Syrian refugees.

Trump later dropped that idea. But it is important to note that even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) considered a “pause” in Syrian refugees, given the security vulnerabilities and the possibility that fighters from the so-called “Islamic State” might infiltrate into the country.

In his Inaugural Address just hours earlier on Wednesday, President Biden had vowed to fight “lies” with “truth”:

Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson.

There is truth and there are lies.

Lies told for power and for profit.

And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation — to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.

Biden’s executive order reversing President Trump’s travel ban can be found here.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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