“I think what’s important [is] that we are able to make a judgment about the people that are coming into the country and so I do not support a blanket-type rejection of any particular group of people,” the former Exxon Mobil CEO said during his confirmation hearing.
“Clearly, we have serious challenges to be able to vet people coming into the country,” Tillerson continued, citing global instability, migration and the fact that many refugees do not have documents. “I don’t think we can just close our eyes and ignore that. We have to be very clear-eyed about recognizing that threat and developing a means to deal with it.”
Still, when Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) asked Tillerson if he supported creating a national registry of Muslims in the U.S., he said he needed more information.
“I would need to have a lot more information around how such an approach would even be constructed, and if it were a tool for vetting, then it probably extends to other people as well, other groups that are threats to the U.S.,” he said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s pick for attorney general, has also expressed opposition to a Muslim ban. He said on Tuesday that such a policy “would raise serious constitutional problems,” and that he would oppose a blanket ban on Muslims (but not a ban on people from Muslim-majority nations).
John Kelly, Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, said he did not support registering people based on “[ethnicity] or religion” and wouldn’t implement a registry “unless there was some really compelling reason.”
Trump’s own proposals have shifted since his presidential campaign began. In December 2015, he proposed an unequivocal blanket ban on all Muslims entering the United States, but later claimed he only wanted to focus on Muslims coming from countries that had been hostile to the United States.
Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush, spoke out against a Muslim registry that was implemented at the time, acknowledging that it made it difficult for people who wanted to visit the U.S.
BEFORE YOU GO
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more informationTrack ballot status
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
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