Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States until lawmakers “can figure out what is going on” in the wake of attacks in Paris and California.
Trump’s call for a halt to Muslim immigration comes just hours after President Barack Obama urged Americans not to scapegoat Muslims and as investigators continue to look for clues in the Islamic jihadist-inspired attack in San Bernardino, that killed 14 people.
The real estate mogul’s latest blast at the Muslim community comes on the same day that a new Monmouth University poll showed Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had pulled ahead of Trump in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first caucus Feb. 1. Trump has been dogged by voter concerns that he lacks the temperament to be president, and the Republican party establishment has grown increasingly anxious about his hold on the polls.
Several of his rivals who have been hoping for the one-time reality TV star to go too far, blasted his remarks. But Cruz, who has been actively courting Trump’s army of outraged voters, did not, telling NBC he’d focus on his own language. He said he has proposed a three-year moratorium on refugees from countries where the Islamic State controls territory.
In a statement issued by his campaign, Trump, who has railed against illegal immigration on the campaign trail, asserts that there is “great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population” and that all Muslim immigrants should be barred until lawmakers can figure out why.
He cited a poll from the Center for Security Policy, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has called an anti-Muslim group, claiming that 25 percent of Muslims polled agreed that violence against Americans is justified.
“Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine,” Trump said. “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
Other Republican contenders, including Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul, have called for restricting Muslim immigration to the U.S., but Trump’s proposal goes much further and drew sharp condemnation from some of his Republican rivals who have been alarmed that Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail could damage the party’s efforts to take the White House, as well as congressional seats.
"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,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich said in a release.
“This is the kind of thing that people say when they have no experience and don’t know what they’re talking about,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on the Michael Medved Show. “We do not need to endorse that type of activity, nor should we. What we need to do is to increase our intelligence capabilities and activity both around the world and in the homeland.”
The proposal is “totally contrary to our values as Americans,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told CNN. It would also run counter to security efforts, Rhodes said, because it plays into the Islamic State’s goal of portraying the U.S. as opposed to the Islamic faith.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, was to hold a news conference Monday night condemning Trump’s remarks, charging that “inaccurate and inflammatory statements” by Trump and others have led to a spike in anti-Muslim incidents in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks. CAIR noted that Trump in the recent past had advocated closing American mosques and recommended special IDs and databases.