Trump: Shut Muslims Out of U.S.

Trump: Shut Muslims Out of U.S.
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Donald Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” on Monday, garnering criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Less than 24 hours after President Obama appealed to the nation to show tolerance and support for Muslims following a deadly terrorist attack in California, Trump issued his controversial statement, which drew a rapid and negative response.

His proposal, if implemented, would deny U.S. entry to students, family members of American citizens, tourists, business representatives, and military and representatives of foreign governments because of their faith.

Trump’s rivals for the GOP presidential nomination condemned his idea.

“Donald Trump is unhinged. His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious,” Jeb Bush tweeted.

John Kasich said of Trump that “this is just more of the outrageous divisiveness that characterizes his every breath and another reason why he is entirely unsuited to lead the United States.”

Lindsey Graham tweeted Trump “has gone from making absurd comments to being downright dangerous with his bombastic rhetoric.”

Democrats, too, were quick to criticize.

Hillary Clinton tweeted: “This is reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive. @RealDonaldTrump, you don't get it. This makes us less safe.”

“The United States is a great nation when we stand together. We are a weak nation when we allow racism and xenophobia to divide us,” Bernie Sanders tweeted.

Trump “removes all doubt: he is running for President as a fascist demagogue,” Martin O’Malley tweeted.

At the White House Monday evening, National Security Spokesman Ben Rhodes assailed Trump for his anti-Muslim stance, arguing that religious discrimination feeds the ISIS narrative that America is at war with Islam, the world’s fastest-growing religion. That narrative serves as a recruitment tool, not a deterrent to violence, he added.

“It’s totally contrary to our values as Americans,” Rhodes told CNN during an interview on the White House lawn, “and it’s contrary to our security.”

Rhodes said applying any religious restrictions or tests out of fear violated the Bill of Rights, stomped on existing U.S. law and would “make it harder to partner” with other countries and groups to help combat extremism in any form.

Trump’s latest version of a border barrier to keep a specific population out of the country was presented as an effort to counter Islamic extremists and aimed at appealing to his conservative base and Monday’s cable news cycles. Trump’s campaign issued the real estate mogul’s proposal in the form of a one-sentence statement to the media. 

The candidate disguised religious discrimination as his counterterrorism policy, and his fans applauded him for it.

Earlier this year, Trump launched his bid for the White House pledging to build a wall to keep those he labeled rapists and criminals from Mexico and Central America from entering the United States. Responding to the threat of Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria, Trump subsequently endorsed surveillance of mosques and opposed welcoming Syrian refugees for fear terrorists could use stolen or forged documents and false backgrounds to gain U.S. entry. He also expressed enthusiasm for the idea of a registry or database to monitor Muslims living in the United States.

Trump on Monday reacted to statements from FBI investigators who are examining the backgrounds of the San Bernardino, Calif., couple, who planned and executed their attacks during a county employee holiday reception for reasons not yet understood. The FBI and the president said the murders were terrorism.

Killer Tashfeen Malik joined husband Syed Rizwan Farook in California on a fiancée visa in 2014, arriving from Pakistan. Investigators are probing whether she was motivated to jihad before her arrival and influenced her husband to join her in murdering 14 people last week. She reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS, an acronym for the Islamic State network, on her Facebook page at the time of Wednesday’s attacks.

Obama and lawmakers have said the government will re-examine visa waiver programs to ensure tight scrutiny for fiancées and other applicants, and craft additional legislation if necessary.

Trump’s latest call to bar Muslims from the United States is unlikely to gain serious traction in Congress, but his rhetoric inspires supporters on the campaign trail who see terrorism and Islam as inextricably linked.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.  Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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