In what was billed as a major foreign policy and national security speech on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed a major reorientation of U.S. immigration and law enforcement policy toward preventing terrorist attacks. He promised to halt immigration from some parts of the world and to employ “extreme vetting” on immigrants from the remainder. At the same time, he said, all federal investigators and prosecutors will be told to focus on rooting out extremist groups, promising that they would do so “viciously” if necessary.
Over the course of the nearly 50-minute address, delivered in Youngstown, Ohio, Trump spent more time focused on the past and attacking the Obama administration and his Democratic opponent, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, than he did on proposing new ideas.
However, if a bit sketchy in the details, the cumulative effect of Trump’s speech was to describe an America that is in constant mortal danger from terrorist attacks related to what he described as “radical Islam,” the spread of which must be halted.
“All actions should be oriented around this goal and any country which shares this goal will be our ally,” Trump said. That would include countries -- Trump mentioned Russia in particular -- with which the U.S. might have major disagreements on other issues. “We cannot always choose our friends but we can never fail to recognize our enemies,” he said.
Trump said that as president he would call an international conference of nations dedicated to combating groups that commit terrorism in the name of Islam. He also pledged to work closely with NATO, an organization he has criticized as obsolete in the past. (He also took credit for a change in NATO’s structure that added a focus on terrorism, though NATO officials have denied that Trump had anything to do with it.)
Without mentioning any specifics, Trump called for blocking terrorists from using the internet “as a recruiting tool and for other purposes.” He said, “We must shut down their access to this form of communication and we must do it immediately.”
He called for “new and even stronger sanctions” on terror groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. “Military, cyber, and financial warfare will all be necessary to dismantle Islamic terrorism,” he said.
He also called for employing “ideological warfare,” though he did not make clear what he meant by that term.
In dealing with other nations, “My administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different beliefs,” he said.
Trump promised a “temporary suspension of immigration from countries with a history of supporting terrorism” and the application of “extreme” vetting to immigrants from the rest of the world. Trump suggested that the vetting process would be able to discern political and social beliefs of applicants and would bar entry to those the Trump administration sees as unfit.
He proposed a national “Commission on Radical Islam” that would be in charge of informing Americans of the “core beliefs” of extremists. It would define the “signs of radicalization” and help identify the recruiting networks which, he suggested, have already taken root in the U.S.
Destroying them, he said, “will be the understood mission of every federal investigator and prosecutor,” and that they would do so “viciously if necessary.”