Trump vows to expand Muslim travel ban to refugees from Gaza

Former president’s immigration policies were repeatedly challenged in the courts during his presidency and were overturned when President Joe Biden took office

Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 17 October 2023 09:45 EDT
Trump says he will reinstate travel ban if re-elected

Donald Trump has vowed to expand his Muslim travel ban to bar refugees from war-torn Gaza if he takes back the White House in 2024.

Speaking to supporters at a rally in Iowa on Monday night, the former president said that he would introduce “ideological screening” for all immigrants and refuse entry to the thousands of Palestinian people now displaced by the Israel-Hamas war.

“We aren’t bringing in anyone from Gaza, Syria, Somalia, Yemen or Libya or anywhere else that threatens our security,” Mr Trump said at the event.

“I banned refugees from Syria, I banned refugees from Somalia – very dangerous places – and from all of the most dangerous places all over the world, I banned them.”

He added: “In my second term, we’re going to expand each and every one of those bans.”

Mr Trump ran his first presidential campaign on a hardline anti-immigration stance, vowing to ban all Muslims from entering the US.

When he entered office, he issued a sweeping ban on people from five Muslim-majority countries Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea.

His immigration policies were repeatedly challenged in the courts during his presidency, with the Muslim travel ban initially struck down in lower courts only to be upheld by the conservative-leaning US Supreme Court.

President Joe Biden overturned the ban when he took office in January 2021.

Now, Mr Trump is vowing to take an even more extreme anti-immigration stance if he wins the 2024 presidential race.

As well as banning refugees from Gaza, Mr Trump read aloud a poem to the crowd of MAGA supporters in Iowa which he used to liken immigrants to deadly snakes.

He also said that he would send immigration agents to “pro-jihadist demonstrations” to remove anyone who sympathises with Hamas militants and “revoke the student visas of radical anti-American and antisemitic foreigners at our colleges and universities”.

Trump speaking at a rally in Iowa on 16 October

“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.

Since Hamas launched attacks on Israel back on 7 October, Mr Trump has come under fire for his response.

In a speech to his supporters hours after the attacks, he called Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah “very smart” and accused the Israeli prime minister of being unprepared.

His comments prompted backlash from the White House and his former vice president and 2024 rival Mike Pence who said: “Hezbollah aren’t smart. They’re evil.”

Mr Trump’s campaign then sought to walk back his comments with come as more than 4,000 people have so far been killed in the 11 days since the war between Israel and Hamas began.

At least 30 American citizens are among the dead, while 14 are missing – some of them believed to have been kidnapped by Hamas.

In what marked a surprise attack, Hamas militants stormed across the Gaza border into Israel on the morning of 7 October, killing, kidnapping and injuring Israeli civilians and soldiers.

The Israeli military has said that more than 1,400 people were killed in the attacks.

An estimated 199 people have also been kidnapped and are being held hostage back in Gaza, with their desperate family members begging for them to come home safely.

Homes destroyed by air strikes in Gaza

Israel has responded to the Hamas attacks by pummeling Gaza with retaliatory air strikes which have killed at least 2,800 Palestinians, including hundreds of children, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

Israel also ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza, cutting off supplies of electricity, water, food and fuel and sparking fears of an escalating humanitarian crisis.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes as Israeli officials ordered them to evacuate from the north to southern parts of Gaza ahead of an expected ground assault.

President Joe Biden is now planning to travel to Israel on Wednesday in a high-stakes trip where he will meet with his Israeli counterparts and pledge the US’s support to Israel.

“The President will reaffirm our solidarity with Israel and he will look forward to getting an update from Israeli officials about their strategy and the pace of their military operations,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Monday.

As well as meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he will also meet with Jordanian King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

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