Trump proposes 'extreme vetting' of immigrants in anti-IS plan

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Aug 17, 2016 01:34 IST
Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio on Monday. (REUTERS)

Donald Trump on Monday proposed Cold War-scale efforts to battle “radical Islamic terror” that would include subjecting immigrants and visitors to the US to “extreme vetting”.

They will be administered an “ideological screening test”, the Republican nominee said on Monday in a speech in Ohio, a battleground state, outlining his strategy against “radical Islam”.

Trump vowed to set up a presidential commission to investigate “radical Islam”, identify signs of radicalisation and expose networks supporting it in the US.

Till these steps are in place, he repeated his call to “suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism”.

“Just as we won the Cold War,” Trump said, “in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of radical Islam.”

“In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.” The effort is to keep out members and sympathisers of terrorist groups, people hostile to the US, and “who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” he said.

Response from the Clinton campaign was swift . “It’s a cynical ploy to escape scrutiny of his outrageous proposal to ban an entire religion from our country and no one should fall for it,” said Jake Sullivan, a senior policy adviser.

Though Trump did not name countries likely to be impacted by temporary “suspension” on Monday, he had earlier cited Pakistan.

Michael Kugelman, South Asia expert with the think tank Wilson Center, said his“you’re-with-us-or-against-us” approach could put US-Pakistan ties “to the test in a big way”.

Trump would have no patience for Pakistan’s “good militant/bad militant” policy, which could inject new levels of tensions into (the) relationship,” Kugelman argued.

He also said Trump’s plan was “firmly in line with India’s views on terrorism—it favoured a robust, all-out assault on all forms of Islamist terror and the ideologies that drive it”.

But though India and a Trump-led US could agree on counter-terrorism, he cautioned, “we can assume that other Trump policies toward India would not be at all well received in Delhi”.

For one, Trump’s ambiguous views on immigration, specially H-1B visas, which are critical to the bottomline for many Indian tech giants. He has both opposed and supported them.

But that’s a different discussion from his Monday speech.

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