Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump called Monday to block all Muslims from entering the United States.
Trump, who has previously called for surveillance against mosques and said he was open to establishing a database for all Muslims living in the U.S., made his latest controversial call in a news release. His message comes in the wake of a deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by suspected ISIS sympathizers and the day after President Barack Obama asked the country not to “turn against one another” out of fear.
“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine,” Trump said in a statement. “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.”
The release pointed to an online poll from the controversial Center for Security Policy, which claimed that a quarter of Muslims living in the U.S. believe violence against Americans is justified as part of a global jihadist campaign. Critics have questioned the reliability of the organization’s information.
Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told CNN on Monday that the ban would apply not just to Muslim foreigners looking to immigrate to the U.S., but also to Muslims looking to visit the U.S. as tourists.
“Everyone,” Lewandowski said when asked if the ban would also apply to Muslim tourists.
“Great surveillance and vigilance must be adhered to,” said Trump in an additional statement Lewandowski provided to CNN. “We want to be very fair but too many bad things are happening and the percentage of true hatred is too great. People that are looking to destroy our country must be reported and turned in by the good people who love our country and want America to be great again.”
Lewandowski declined to answer multiple questions about what the shutdown on Muslim immigration would mean for Muslim Americans and Muslims already living in the U.S. legally.
It didn’t take long for the rest of the Republican presidential primary field to repudiate Trump’s call.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie slammed Trump’s proposal in a radio interview.
“This is the kind of thing that people say when they have no experience and don’t know what they are talking about. We do not need to resort to that type of activity nor should we,” Christie said on the Michael Medved radio show. “What we need to do is to increase our intelligence activities. We need to cooperate with peaceful Muslim Americans who want to give us intelligence against those who are radicalized.”
And South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted, ” Every candidate for president needs to do the right thing & condemn @Realdonaldtrump’s statement.”
Another GOP presidential contender, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said, “That is not my policy.”
“I have introduced legislation in the Senate that would put in place a three year moratorium on refugees coming from countries where ISIS or al Qaeda control a substantial amount of territory. And the reason is that is where the threat is coming from,” Cruz said as he was leaving a South Carolina field office.
In a statement, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said, “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.”
And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tweeted that Trump is “unhinged.”
“Donald Trump is unhinged. His “policy” proposals are not serious,” he said.
Trump took to Twitter to say, “important policy statement on the extraordinary influx of hatred & danger coming into our country.”
“We must be vigilant!” he tweeted.
Trump has beat back criticism in recent weeks that he is bigoted against Muslims, even telling CNN on Saturday when asked whether Muslims pose a danger to the U.S. that he thinks Muslims “are great people.”
“I love the Muslims. I think they’re great people,” Trump told CNN on Saturday.
And when he became tied to the idea of creating a database of all Muslims living in the U.S., Trump sought to distance himself from that proposal — insisting that the idea was a reporter’s and he was not committed to it.
Trump’s call for a shutdown of Muslim immigration in the U.S. came hours before he was set to speak aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown, a World War II era ship parked near Charleston, South Carolina.