Former President Donald Trump again championed his ban on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries on Monday, promising to expand the policy if he’s elected to the White House as well as institute a “strong ideological screening” for all immigrants.
“As I’ve already said, many many times before, I will reinstate and expand the wildly successful Trump travel ban on entry from terror-plagued countries, territories and places,” Trump told a crowd of supporters in Clive, Iowa. “It just kept us safe; we wouldn’t let people come in from certain countries where there’s tremendous terror. Makes sense, right?”
Trump, who remains the front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, made the comments amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The former president on Monday pointed to the war as justification for an expanded ban on immigration, saying he would also revoke some student visas and deport anyone who demonstrates against Israel.
“If you want to abolish the state of Israel, you’re disqualified; if you support Hamas or the ideology behind Hamas, you’re disqualified; and if you’re a communist, Marxist, or fascist, you are disqualified,” he said, leaning on fearful, discriminatory rhetoric common throughout his campaign. “In addition, we will aggressively deport resident aliens with jihadist sympathies.”
He went on to say that he would oppose any U.S. effort to accept refugees from Gaza, where more than 1 million people have fled their homes. Israel is expected to invade the territory in the coming days in retaliation for Hamas’ devastating surprise attack earlier this month. Thousands have been killed on both sides of the conflict, and President Joe Biden is expected to travel to Israel on Wednesday amid concerns the war could expand.
Trump said that his new ban, which initially applied to seven Muslim-majority countries in 2017, would include citizens from Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen if enacted, as well as “anywhere else that threatens our security.”
Human rights groups were furious with the ban at the time, calling it inhumane and discriminatory. Biden reversed the policy shortly after taking office, but the ban has had lingering effects for hundreds of families long after it was lifted.
Trump’s recent comments prompted an immediate rebuke from Democrats, who pointed to Islamophobic rhetoric that “has done nothing but sow chaos and breed violence.” The Democratic National Committee linked such comments to the murder this week of a 6-year-old Muslim boy in Illinois.
“Donald Trump is following up last week’s erratic behavior – criticizing Israel and praising their terrorist enemies – by now exploiting fear and anxiety in a shameless attempt to revive his widely rejected, extreme Muslim ban,” DNC chair Jamie Harrison said in a statement. “Trump continues to confirm that his only guiding principle is what serves himself, not the American people or our national security.”