“We will implement strong ideological screening for all immigrants to the United States,” he announced Monday, according to prepared remarks. “In addition, we will aggressively deport resident aliens with jihadist sympathies.”
The proposals echoed Trump’s 2016 campaign, when he seized on terrorist attacks in Europe to call for banning Muslim immigration, which turned into a ban on travel from several Muslim-majority countries when he became president. The Supreme Court eventually upheld a modified version of the policy.
The position Trump articulated marked the latest move in the Republican presidential race to adopt a strict posture of barring refugees from the Gaza Strip amid war in the Middle East. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said over the weekend that the United States should not accept them, adding, “If you look at how they behave, not all of them are Hamas, but they are all antisemitic.” He was referring to the Palestinian militant group whose deadly attack on Israel started the ongoing war.
Trump joined that position on Monday, adding Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Libya to the list.
“If you support Hamas or any ideas, ideology that’s having to do with that or any of the other really sick thoughts that go through people’s minds — very dangerous — you’re disqualified,” Trump said in the remarks he delivered.
During his appearance, Trump joked about expelling Biden administration officials based on ideology. “I’d like to get them out too,” he said.
Democrats on Monday swiftly condemned Trump’s latest remarks. “Donald Trump is doubling down on the same Islamophobic rhetoric that has done nothing but sow chaos and breed violence,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison in a statement.
DeSantis also announced support for deporting some student demonstrators. “You don’t have a right to be here on a visa,” he said in an interview on Monday on Fox News Radio’s Guy Benson Show, when asked about “foreign national students who support Hamas.” He added, “You don’t have a right to be studying in the United States. And we have a right to defend our people.”
Trump also proposed ideological tests during the 2016 campaign, leading when he became president to longer screening questionnaires and citizenship tests. Critics called the changes overly burdensome and discriminatory.
Last week, Trump faced widespread criticism from his Republicans and Democrats after calling Hezbollah militants “very smart” and criticizing Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. DeSantis’s campaign spokesman went so far as to call Trump’s remarks “disqualifying,” while former New Jersey governor Chris Christie called Trump “a fool.”
Trump has previously promised to mount the largest domestic deportation operation in history, but he went further Monday be proposing to send immigration officers to “pro-jihadist demonstrations.”
He also said he would revive his administration’s controversial efforts to revoke citizenship “from criminals, terrorists, and immigration cheaters and frauds.”