By Kate Sullivan, CNN
(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump said Monday that if elected again to the White House, he would reinstate and expand a travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim countries, suspend refugee resettlements and aggressively deport those whom he characterized as having “jihadist sympathies.”
During a campaign event in Clive, Iowa, Trump pointed to the deadly attacks by Hamas in Israel and raised fears about a potential assault on the US as he sought to make the case for his hard-line immigration policies. His proposals would amount to a sweeping overhaul of America’s immigration system and would almost certainly face legal challenges if implemented.
During his presidency, Trump’s travel ban was a signature policy that limited travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The administration later extended the travel ban to include several African countries. President Joe Biden revoked the travel ban after he took office in 2021.
Trump said Monday that he would implement “strong ideological screening of all immigrants to the United States” and said the US would block “dangerous lunatics, haters, bigots and maniacs to get residency in our country.”
He also said he would ban travel from Gaza, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya” or anywhere else that threatens our security.”
The former president said he would revoke student visas of “radical anti-American and antisemitic foreigners” enrolled in US colleges and universities and deport them. Trump criticized pro-Palestinian protests and said he would send Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to what he described as “pro-jihadist demonstrations.”
“We have to protect our own country,” Trump said.
Republican presidential candidates have sought to position themselves as steadfast supporters of Israel after Hamas launched a deadly surprise attack on the country, which then declared war on the terrorist group. Trump has denounced the attacks and expressed support for Israel, but he received considerable backlash from his GOP rivals and others last week for criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and saying Netanyahu was caught unprepared by Hamas’ attack. Trump also praised the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah as “very smart.”
Trump and his team have since backtracked, including saying in a statement, “There was no better friend or ally of Israel” than the former president. He also posted on social media, “#IStandWithBibi,” a reference to Netanyahu’s nickname.
Other Republican presidential candidates on Monday called for revoking student visas and deporting foreign nationals in the US who have aligned themselves with Hamas. The escalating rhetoric by GOP candidates comes as the Israel-Hamas conflict deepens and the death toll from the war sharply climbs.
“Anyone who stands up and says they want to kill Jews, they support terrorism, they should have that visa revoked,” Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said in a radio interview on “The Sean Hannity Show.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also endorsed such a proposal, saying on “The Guy Benson Show” that he thought if someone on a visa expressed support for Hamas, “You don’t have a right to be here on a visa, you don’t have a right to be studying in the United States.”
DeSantis was responding to a question about whether he supported Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida asking US Secretary of State Antony Blinken over the weekend to revoke immigrant visas of recipients in the US who have endorsed terrorist activity by Hamas.
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CNN’s Kristen Holmes contributed to this story.