Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens endorsed Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign and supported the candidate’s controversial proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US in the interest of national security.
Speaking at the SALT conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Pickens said he agrees with Trump that Muslims should be banned from entering the country while they are vetted. “Cut them off till we can figure out who they are,” he told reporters at the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference.
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Pickens is not worried about the economic consequences of banning Muslims. “We’ve got plenty of people here. We’ve got a good economy and Muslims coming into the US, I don’t see that as impacting the economy at all.”
Legal scholars have debated the move. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, is widely criticised by even members of his own party for wanting to ban Muslim immigrants.
Late last year, Trump proposed a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the country, saying the hatred among them was “beyond comprehension”. This provoked outrage across the political arena, but the billionaire businessman and former reality television star has not backed down from his stance in recent months.
Some distanced themselves from the Muslim ban idea. Dick Cheney, former US vice-president, said “the stance goes against everything we stand for and believe in”.
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Sam Zell, another billionaire who has donated to Republican candidates this election cycle, sided with Cheney. “The idea of studying anybody based on religion is insane,” he told the audience at SALT. He said that Trump showed up at a time when people were fed up.
Recently appointed London Mayor Sadiq Khan slammed Trump’s stance as “ignorant”. He warned that the policy is something that could make the US and UK “less safe".
But Pickens acknowledges that Trump is not a typical White House contender. “I’m ready to take a chance on it,” said Pickens. “People are fed up, fed up with Washington and politicians.”
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