Drawing links to Nazi Germany, the president of the Massachusetts Senate condemned the Trump administration's move to bar entry into the country of nationals from seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Senate President Stan Rosenberg, who is Jewish, said the issuance of President Donald Trump's executive order on Holocaust Remembrance Day was a particular affront, and he said senators would discuss the matter later this week.
"If you study the history of what happened in Germany it was one incremental policy change after another after another after another. And before you know it you turned around and you saw what happened as a result of that," the Amherst Democrat told the News Service outside the Senate chamber on Monday. "And I'm just really very upset that he did it at all. And that he did it on that day is just to forget history and not understand the pain they're causing."
Trump on Friday signed an executive order barring for 90 days the entry of non-U.S. citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - majority Muslim nations that have been wrought by conflict and which Trump says were identified by the Obama administration "as sources of terror."
Pro-immigration protests erupted at airports around the country over the weekend as lawyers sought and eventually achieved the release of individuals detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Refugee Admissions Program was also temporarily suspended.
Before winning election in November, Trump suggested during his campaign temporarily banning all Muslims from entering the country.
"I think he's dead wrong on this," Rosenberg said. He said, "When you have a situation where you have people who are legally in this country and they show up at the airport returning from an overseas visit, and they get detained at the airport, that is not the American way."
Senate Democrats are scheduled to caucus privately on Wednesday, and Rosenberg said the order would be a topic of that discussion.
Trump has refuted assertions the policy amounted to a Muslim ban, and said the U.S. would resume visa issuing to "all countries" after the 90-day review.
"To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe," Trump said in a statement. "There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days."
Nazi Germany, a war-mongering country that committed genocide against Jews before surrendering to a coalition of world armies more than 70 years ago, can be an incendiary comparison point. The White House was criticized for not mentioning Jews or anti-Semitism in its statement commemorating the Holocaust in which the Nazis killed 6 million Jews.
A Trump spokeswoman told CNN "despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered."
Here is Trump's full statement, issued on Friday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day: "It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror. Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent. In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world."