Trump’s Transition Team Flip Flops on the Muslim Registry

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Reince Priebus in 2011

President-elect’s chief of staff Reince Priebus recently suggested the new administration would not create a Muslim registry as promised. He added, however, he didn’t “rule out anything” on immigration yet.

On Sunday, Priebus told CNN’s “State of the Union” host that the administration would take some measures against terrorism. For instance, the U.S. could suspend immigration from regions that “harbor” or “harbor and train” terrorists. He explained these measures would be temporary and be in force until a better vetting system emerges.

In 2015, Trump said in an interview that he contemplated the creation of a database for Muslim Americans. But as the idea stirred controversy he distanced himself from the possibility.

Temporary Suspension of Immigration

Several days ago, his policy adviser Kris Kobach disclosed the transition team was creating a registry for immigrants and visitors from high-risk countries. When the CNN host asked Priebus whether retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was right to say that “fear of Muslims is rational,” he agreed.

“There are some people within that particular religion that we do fear,”

Priebus said.

However, he added that he doesn’t believe in “religious tests.” So, he refrains from “blanketly judging” people’s creeds and religions. Yet, he pledged to address the problems and temporarily suspend immigration from areas with high risk of terrorism. On ABC, Priebus added that Islam has some “problematic” aspects. “[…] We know them; we’ve seen it,” he said.

In an interview with NBC, he disclosed that no religion “should be judged as a whole.” Nevertheless, he agreed there were people who shouldn’t enter the U.S. and somebody should prevent them from doing so. When NBC host Chuck Todd wanted to know if the new administration would rule out a Muslim registry, Priebus replied he was not ruling out anything.“But, but I wouldn’t — we’re not going to have a registry based on a religion,” the chief of staff added.

Religious Tests May be a Solution

He also told Todd that the administration will focus on “radicalized” people and prevent them from coming into the U.S. Priebus also said that Trump’s position is in line with Congress’ view on immigrants and visitors from high-risk countries. This means the new administration will suspend immigration from those countries until it has a better vetting system

Yet, when the vetting system is set in place, “radical folks” will stay out while the U.S. will allow others in. On the other hand, many people on Trump team think religious tests are a must. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions who might become attorney general under a Trump administration noted many Muslim immigrants become “radicalized” after they reach the U.S.

So, he thinks the U.S. cannot screen these people if it cannot even ask what their religion or creed is.

“Would we forbid questions about politics? Or theology?,”

Sen. Sessions wanted to know in December 2015.

The comments came days after Trump sparked a new wave of controversy when he said he would ban Muslims from entering the U.S. until authorities can figure out what happened in attacks such as the San Bernardino shooting.
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