Clive, Iowa: Former President Donald Trump, in remarks that invoked the deadly Hamas attacks on Israel to stoke fears of terrorism at home, said Monday that he would expand a freeze on refugees that he enacted during his presidency to cover people from the Palestinian territory of Gaza.
In an extension of the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments he channeled during his 2016 presidential run and made a cornerstone of his administration, Trump offered a litany of proposals that in many ways adapted his previous policies to reflect current events. He promised again to bar people from certain parts of the world, particularly where Islam is most commonly practiced, while curbing immigration and the overall number of refugees the United States would take in.
“We aren’t bringing in anyone from Gaza,” Trump said at a rally in Clive, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines.
Referring to recent demonstrations protesting Israel’s retaliatory bombardment of Gaza and supporting civilians in the region caught up in conflict, Trump promised to send Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to what he called “pro-jihadist” rallies. He also proposed that immigrants be denied entry to the United States if they adhered to a laundry list of ideologies.
“If you empathize with radical Islamic terrorists and extremists, you’re disqualified,” Trump said. “If you want to abolish the state of Israel, you’re disqualified.”
So, too, would be people who supported Hamas “or any ideology that’s having to do with that,” he said, and anyone who was a “communist, Marxist or fascist.”
Trump did not explain how the country would carry out or enforce such a screening, an idea he proposed in a slightly different form during his 2016 campaign. Nor did he elaborate on a separate proposal that included deporting “resident aliens” — which includes legal Us residents — with “jihadist sympathies.”
“We have to. Or we’re going to have a country that’s going to be blown to shreds. Because bad things are happening. Millions and millions of people have come into our country, and nobody has any idea where they’re from. Some from countries that nobody’s ever heard of,” Trump said.
Trump also said his administration would revoke the visas of “radical anti-American and antisemitic foreigners” such as those involved in pro-Palestinian demonstrations, saying that foreign nationals at colleges and universities were “teaching your children hate.”
Two other Republican contenders, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, both said in interviews Monday that they favored deporting foreign students who appeared to support Hamas.
DeSantis, on Fox News Radio’s “Guy Benson Show,” also said he did not think refugees from Gaza should come to the United States. “The Arab countries should take them,” he said.
Trump’s remarks, building on his vow this month to reinstate a travel ban he enacted while president, represent an attempt to further retreat from comments he made at a rally in Florida last week about Israel that prompted widespread criticism from political rivals.
After lashing out at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump suggested the Israeli military, which is now on the brink of invading the Gaza Strip, needed to “straighten it out.” He also called Hezbollah, the Iran-backed, anti-Israel militant group in Lebanon, “very smart.”
Trump’s Republican opponents, who are eager for any edge that could help them close the yawning gap separating them from the former president in the polls, seized on his comments, condemning him for criticizing a country still reeling from a deadly terrorist attack.
In the days since, Trump has repeatedly sought to clarify that he stands with the nation and Netanyahu.
In a statement, Jaime Harrison, chair of the Democratic National Committee, accused Trump of using language that could incite violence such as the killing of a 6-year-old boy in Illinois that authorities are calling an anti-Muslim hate crime.
“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,” Harrison said.
Trump did not speak at length about the conflict in Israel in his first campaign appearance Monday, in Adel, Iowa, where he focused more on domestic issues, including his own.
Speaking shortly after a judge imposed a limited gag order restricting some public statements that Trump can make related to the federal case over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, he said he and his lawyers planned to fight the ruling.
“They put a gag order on me, and I’m not supposed to be talking about things that bad people do, and so we’ll be appealing very quickly,” Trump said, in front of a pyramid of hay bales at the Dallas County Fairgrounds.
He added, “I’ll be the only politician in history where I won’t be allowed to criticize people.”
(Published 17 October 2023, 03:54 IST)