Maronite Priest on Trump’s Immigration Executive Order: U.S. ‘Has All the Right to Protect Itself’

President Donald Trump signs one of two executive orders aimed at supporting women in STEM fields, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci / Associated Press

WASHINGTON, DC — Father Andre-Sebastian Mahanna of the Maronite Catholic Church supported America’s right to defend itself when he was asked during a congressional panel discussion to comment on President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from six terrorism-linked countries.

“The United States has all the right to protect itself, its borders, and especially when safety has been compromised,” said the Lebanon native Father Mahanna, who was recently appointed by the Apostolic Union of Clergy in Rome to serve as a special envoy to clerics in the United States. “We don’t second-guess our administration nor the information nor the president.”

Father Mahanna did suggest that the Trump administration implement the executive order, or EO, “with a human extended compassion,” particularly towards people from the six countries covered by the directive who belong to a persecuted religious minority group and are already residing in the United States.

The congressional panel discussion Thursday was aimed at commemorating the one-year anniversary of the U.S. government’s declaration that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is committing genocide against ethnoreligious minority groups in the Middle East, including Christians.

John Hajjar, co-chair of the Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC), also commented on Trump’s executive order during the event Thursday.

Echoing Father Mahanna, he said, “Security is paramount, and we see the increase and severity, and frequency of terrorist attacks and I think the president’s number one job is to keep Americans safe.”

“I think that there will be some people who will be negatively affected, unfortunately, but I think the vast majority will do very well by this new policy,” he added.

Earlier this month, President Trump signed a new executive order restricting the entry of most travelers from six terror-linked countries for 90 days and freezing the arrival of refugees from any country for the next 120 days.

Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen are the six nations covered by the directive.

Some religious minority groups from those countries, including Christians, have come out against the EO.

The new order no longer gives preferential treatment to persecuted religious minorities from all nations, a provision that sparked outrage among opponents of the ordinance.

“We wish on our president and those who are in charge of that executive order not to withhold help from these people [persecuted minorities] while they are over there,” noted Father Mahanna, the national president and founder of St. Rafka’s Mission of Hope and Mercy to Save Christian Middle East. “It’s not enough that we protect our nation’s borders, but it’s good to extend help to them while they are over there to make sure they’re not in harm’s way.”

The congressional panel was hosted by Congressmen Steve King and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), along with Dr. Walid Phares, a national security expert who served as a foreign affairs adviser to President Donald Trump.