February 01, 2017
At his weekly Capitol Hill press briefing on Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that he believes the temporary halt ordered by President Donald Trump of immigrants from seven countries that are havens for terrorists is a “religious test” and “unconstitutional,” even though the executive order does not mention a specific religion and states that all religious minorities that are facing persecution should be “prioritized” for refugee status.
In his remarks to reporters, Hoyer called the executive order “a Muslim ban” and distributed to reporters the transcript from the remarks he made on the House floor ahead of the briefing, where he said, “[The executive order] bans refugees and is, for all intents and purposes, a ban on Muslims entering our country.
“It is a religious test,” Hoyer said.
CNSNews.com told Hoyer at the briefing: “It doesn’t say Muslim, Jew, Christian in the actual executive order.”
“The seven nations are all Muslim nations,” Hoyer said. “If it were nonspecific as to religious minorities, it would say anybody that’s religiously persecuted.
“But [the order] says all persecuted religious minorities,” CNSNews.com responded.
“I understand,” Hoyer said. “I do not rationalize that distinction, nor do most people who have – legal scholars who have reviewed it, without naming any.
“They believe it is, in fact, a religious test, which is unconstitutional, in my opinion under the First Amendment,” Hoyer said.
Trump’s order – Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States – states, in part: “The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.”
Nowhere in the order are any specific religions named.