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Trump pledges to implement 'strong ideological screening' for all immigrants if elected

'If you don’t like our religion ... then we don't want you," former president says

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump is pledging to implement a “strong ideological screening” for all immigrants to the United States if he’s elected in 2024, including for those who “don’t like our religion.” 

Trump, the current Republican presidential frontrunner, made the comments Monday during a campaign rally in New Hampshire, where he compared the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas to America’s future under a second term for President Joe Biden.

“A vote for Crooked Joe is a vote to turn the United States into a hotbed of jihadists and make our cities into dumping grounds very much resembling the Gaza Strip,” said Trump. “Have you been to the Gaza Strip?”

Pledging to secure the U.S. border and “keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country,” Trump said on “day one” he would also “immediately restore and expand” his former administration’s travel ban, including halting “all refugee settlements to the United States.”

He then compared the Hamas jihadists who are “shooting rockets at Israel” to those trying to enter the U.S. illegally and called for an ideological “screening” of all immigrants.

“They want to come in; they want to bring the same people that are shooting rockets at Israel. They want to come into the United States,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of good things are going to happen. 

“And I will implement strong ideological screening of all immigrants. If you hate America, if you want to abolish Israel, if you don’t like our religion — which a lot of them don’t — if you sympathize with jihadists, then we don’t want you in our country, and you are not getting in.”

While Trump did not elaborate on the plan, the U.S. Constitution states under Article VI, clause 3, that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Trump also did not define what he meant by the phrase “our religion,” but in 2020 he identified himself as a nondenominational Christian. More than 60% of all Americans identify as Christian in some form or denomination, according to Pew Research data.

Trump’s remarks echoed similar statements he made during the 2016 presidential campaign, in which he pledged to implement an ideological test for migrants to see if they agree with Americans on anti-bigotry and tolerance values.

Data released this week by the House Committee on Homeland Security showed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded more than 2.4 million encounters at the Southwest border and more than 3.2 million encounters nationwide in fiscal year 2023.

In the final month alone, an unprecedented nearly 270,000 encounters were recorded at the Southwest border, a number that also represents an 86% increase from June 2023, according to the report.

Shortly after taking office in 2017, Trump came under intense scrutiny when he signed an executive order restricting immigration from six Muslim-majority countries that fail to meet “minimum security and information-sharing requirements.” 

An amended order added four African countries as well as Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar to a travel restriction list that included Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea. 

Under the amended policy, immigrant visas were also suspended for Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea and Kyrgyzstan. 

The travel ban was first set in motion by former President Barack Obama, who in December 2015 signed into law the Visa Waiver Improvement Program and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, which designated Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia as areas of concern.

Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post and the author of BACKWARDS DAD: a children's book for grownups. He can be reached at: ian.giatti@christianpost.com.

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