Trump adopted his “extreme vetting” plan from extremist individuals and groups and incorporated it as a central tenet of his platform.
On Monday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump slightly walked back his previous calls for a moratorium on Muslim immigration into the United States. Trump proposed instead an “extreme vetting” policy. No less problematic, this proposal is almost identical to a plan introduced by leaders of the organized anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant movements.
Trump framed the plan as a retrofitting of a Cold War-era policy which sought to exclude immigrants based on their ideology. Not surprisingly, Trump’s strategy specifically singled out Islamic law and targeted Muslim immigrants.
Trump is adopting ideas and language from extremist individuals and groups and incorporating them as central tenets of his platform.
Following Trump’s initial calls to ban all Muslims last December, Mark Krikorian, a notorious nativist leader and executive director of the anti-immigrant think tank the Center for Immigration Studies, proposed this Cold War-era “ideological exclusion” policy. He called it a “grown-up alternative” to an outright moratorium on Muslim immigration.
As reported by Imagine 2050, Krikorian then collaborated with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney to host an online press conference to discuss this proposal. Gaffney, who heads the Center for Security Policy and frequently suggests that Muslims are quietly subverting government institutions through immigration, was indeed a fan of Krikorian’s plan.
As he noted in his December piece, Krikorian also borrowed ideas for his proposal from Andrew C. McCarthy, another known anti-Muslim figure who once served as a federal prosecutor. McCarthy was skeptical that Trump’s Muslim moratorium would withstand Constitutional scrutiny. Still, he came to the real estate mogul’s aid, claiming Islam may not be an actual religion, but rather an ideology.
The similarities between Trump and Krikorian’s platforms are clear.
“[W]e must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said in his speech delivered from Youngstown, Ohio.
He added that under his administration, the U.S. will “only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.”
How this idea made its way from extremist ideologues to Trump’s platform
A straight line can be charted from Krikorian and Gaffney to Trump, through Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Sessions has been a longtime ally to the nativist movement and has ties to Gaffney and Krikorian. He was honored by the Center for Security Policy in 2015 and has invited Krikorian to testify on Capitol Hill regarding immigration.
Media outlets have reported that Sessions is also a close advisor to Trump on immigration and allegedly works with him to craft policy. Sessions once said that Trump’s immigration policy is “exactly the plan America needs.”
In 2013, Mother Jones exposed Krikorian, Gaffney, and many others within the organized nativist movement for coordinating messaging through a secret far-right strategy group known as Groundswell. The report also indicted Danielle Cutrona, chief counsel to Sessions, as a member of the group who frequently sought assistance from its nativist members.
As highlighted numerous times on Imagine 2050, Gaffney and Krikorian are also close colleagues. Sessions shares similar ideologies based in nativism. He has repeatedly invited representatives from CIS to testify before the congressional subcommittee he chairs, and was the featured speaker at a CIS reception at The National Press Club in June.
Validation from nativist leaders
Trump’s “extreme vetting” proposal Monday received resounding support from Krikorian, Gaffney, and employees of the Center for Security Policy.
Writing at National Review, Krikorian claimed Trump’s ‘extreme vetting’ is “extremely overdue,” and called the policy “common sense.”
Gaffney published a short blog entitled “Trump’s Reaganesque Strategy for Victory over Jihad” where he argued that such a plan is “long overdue.”
Jim Hanson, Vice President of the Center for Security Policy, appeared on Fox News saying Trump did a “tremendous job” rolling out his strategy.
“He laid a plan that would be a victory over jihad,” said Hanson. “He said, ‘we’re going to defeat ISIS and cut down the black flag.’ He said, ‘we’re going to stop importing jihadists … and also have an ideological screening for American values and not let them in.’”
“Great plan,” Hanson concluded.
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