Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanLawmakers signal fight for healthcare reform is not over Cotton: House 'moved a bit too fast' on healthcare Budget chief: 'Powers that be in Washington' won healthcare fight MORE's (R-Wis.) office said Saturday that President Trump's executive order limiting immigration from several Muslim-majority countries does not target Muslims.
“This is not a religious test and it is not a ban on people of any religion,” AshLee Strong told The Washington Post.
Several congressional aides also told the newspaper that the new immigration directive does not seek to single out a preference for Christians, with restrictions mainly focusing on areas with terrorism.
During an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network on Friday, however, Trump signaled that he may be favoring persecuted Christians in the Middle East for a refugee status.
When asked if he plans on prioritizing Christian minority groups who have been victims of armed conflict in the region, Trump responded "yes."
The immigration restriction is expected to stay in place for a minimum of 90 days.
The Trump order also bars Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely and halts all refugee resettlements for four months while official aim to tighten the vetting process, which is already the strictest in the world.
Human rights groups and Democrats ripped Trump's order on Friday, comparing it to his campaign proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.
That campaign proposal, announced in December 2015, led to widespread public backlash including from top Republicans such as Ryan, who called it un-American.
But on Friday, Ryan voiced support for Trump's order announced this week, praising the president for taking the issue of immigration seriously.
“President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country,” the Speaker said.
According to the Post, Ryan also maintained that he supports the refugee resettlement program but believes that it is time to “reevaluate and strengthen the visa vetting process.”