Trump’s Muslim ban ‘morphs’ into ‘extreme vetting’

In a bitter debate filled with tension and insult, Hillary Clinton declared that Donald Trump’s vulgar comments about women prove his unsuitability to be president. He promised she would “be in jail” if he were president. (Oct. 10) AP

By his own admission, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s plan to combat the threat of Islamic extremism by banning all Muslims from entering the United States has “morphed” into “extreme vetting.”

The shift was highlighted during Sunday’s debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Moderator Martha Raddatz asked Trump whether his call — following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., by Islamic State sympathizers — for barring Muslim immigrants from the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” was the right thing to do.

“The Muslim ban is something that in some form has morphed into extreme vetting from certain areas of the world,” Trump responded.

“We are going to areas like Syria, where they’re coming in by the tens of thousands because of Barack Obama and Hillary,” he said last night in St. Louis.

Trump said Clinton, by contrast, wants to pursue an immigration policy that would allow a 550% increase of Syrian asylum seekers into the U.S. over what President Obama has advocated.

“This is going to be the great Trojan horse of all time. We have enough problems in this country. I believe in building safe zones. I believe in having other people pay for them. As an example, the Gulf states who are not carrying their weight but they have nothing but money,” Trump continued.

“But I don’t want to have — with all the problems this country has and all of the problems you see going on, hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria when we know nothing about them. We know nothing about their values and we know nothing about their love for our country.”

The U.S. admitted 12,587 Syrians for the 2016 fiscal year that end on Sept. 30, according to a refugee database used by the State Department — an amount that exceeds Obama’s goal by 25%. Clinton has said that the U.S. should accept 65,000 Syrian refugees, a figure that matches Trump’s “550%” assertion but is well below his subsequent “hundreds of thousands” claim. Overall, from all regions, the U.S. accepted 85,000 refugees this fiscal year, a 57% increase from 2015.

During the debate, Clinton said she was in favor of “vetting that is as tough as it needs to be,” but that it was important  “as a policy, not to say, as Donald has said, that we’re going to ban people based on a religion. How do you do that? We are a country founded on religious freedom and liberty? How do we do what he has advocated without causing great distress within our own country? Are we going to have religious tests when people fly into our country?”

MORE COVERAGE OF THE SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Although officials say that Muslims in the U.S. regularly report suspicious activity — “Some of our most productive relationships are with people who see things and tell us things who happen to be Muslim,” FBI Director James Comey said after the Orlando nightclub attack — Trump said Sunday: “We have to be sure that Muslims come in and report when they see something.”

That comment unleashed a stampede of reaction from American Muslims, including a popular tweet from Moustafa Bayoumi, who wrote: “I’m a Muslim, and I would like to report a crazy man threatening a woman on a stage in Missouri.”

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