President Donald Trump said Monday that “there’s nothing to apologize for” when asked if he would disavow his past incendiary comments on a Muslim ban in order to salvage his broader travel ban policy.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding a challenge to Trump’s travel ban last week, with the justices seemingly split on the controversial policy’s constitutionality. At one point during the hearing, Chief Justice John Roberts asked if a public disavowal by Trump of his campaign rhetoric demanding a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. would alleviate concerns about the travel ban’s constitutionality, prompting the attorney challenging the ban to say that it would.
The president, addressing reporters at a press conference Monday, disagreed.
“There's no reason to apologize. Our immigration laws in this country are a total disaster. They're laughed at all over the world, they're laughed at for their stupidity. And we have to have strong immigration laws,” Trump said, standing alongside Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. “So I think if I apologize, wouldn't make ten cents worth of difference to them. There’s nothing to apologize for.”
The travel ban was among the first policy steps announced by the president and has proven to be among the most difficult to implement. Initial versions of the ban faced immediate legal challenges, were struck down by courts and then replaced by the administration, restarting the cycle as the policy made its way towards last week’s Supreme Court hearing.
While the White House has characterized the travel ban as a national security necessity, opponents of the policy have cast it as the manifestation of Trump’s campaign promise to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. The policy, a revised version of which was released last September, targets eight nations, six of which have majority-Muslim populations.