Trump 2024: Bring Back the ‘Muslim Ban’ — and Expand It
Donald Trump for months has been telling people close to him that he plans to bring back his infamous “Muslim ban” if he’s reelected in 2024, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
“Gotta bring it back,” Trump has said of the policy, according to the two sources, who added he regularly calls the idea “beautiful.”
Banning Muslims from entering the United States is a longstanding obsession of Trump’s. In December 2015, during the GOP presidential primary, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” He took a step toward that vision just a few days after taking office, when he signed an executive order banning the entry of citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq for 90 days.
The ban caused chaos and confusion at U.S. airports and ports of entry, and led to a diplomatic fallout with Iraq, where the U.S. still had thousands of troops deployed. Federal courts blocked the initial order, but in 2018 the Supreme Court narrowly approved a subsequent revision of the ban — which included the addition of largely non-Muslim countries such as North Korea and Venezuela to the list of countries subject to tighter restrictions. President Joe Biden reversed the executive order in one of his first executive orders after taking office.
But the former president appears to be unsatisfied with merely reinstating the ban as it existed during his presidency. More recently, Trump has privately discussed adding more countries, including Afghanistan, to the list of majority-Muslim countries whose citizens he’s seeking to ban from the United States.
The hints of Trump’s interest in a reinvigorated travel ban are noticeable in his recent speeches, although they haven’t received much public scrutiny.
“I will restore my travel ban to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country,” Trump said in a late-April appearance in New Hampshire. “We were very tough on that. We don’t want our buildings blown up. We don’t want to have problems.”
“My wonderful travel ban, it was so wonderful,” he lamented during a March appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference as he promised mass deportations if reelected.
The ban was not wonderful.
“It’s honestly kind of pathetic that this is his idea of the sort of success he wants to replicate. There are literally no grounds on which any of the three versions of the travel ban were successes by anyone’s definition — they were incoherent policy messes that also ruined countless families’ lives,” argues Dara Lind, a senior fellow at the American Immigration Council. “The legal immigration system is still struggling to get back on its feet after 2017-2020 (partly because of Covid but also because it’s really hard to keep a functioning policy system when policy keeps changing on a dime). This sure wouldn’t help. And if the theory here is that he’s going to be able to get the courts in 2025 to sign on to something the courts in 2017 wouldn’t … well, I sure hope he’s wrong.”
Trump has also touted other hardline anti-immigration policies while campaigning. On Wednesday, he appeared in a video message to supporters to blast the expiration of Title 42, a Covid-era emergency provision which allowed the U.S. to expel migrants found crossing the border. “When I take the oath of office … we will immediately begin the process of fully securing the border and removing the illegal aliens Joe Biden has unlawfully allowed to break into our country,” Trump said.
A key figure in the implementation of the first Muslim ban is on record calling for yet another one.
Stephen Miller, a former top Trump White House policy aide who helped write the executive order and remains influential in Trumpworld, has also been pressing for a renewed ban. “Bring back the travel ban. Now,” Miller wrote on Twitter in August, replying to a Reuters tweet about how “Iran’s hardline newspapers praise Salman Rushdie’s attacker.”
Miller and other MAGA conservatives have focused on Afghanistan, expressing outrage when the United States took in refugees as the country fell to the Taliban in 2021.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that Biden & his radical deputies will use their catastrophic debacle in Afghanistan as a pretext for doing to America what Angela Merkel did to Germany & Europe,” Miller moaned as the Biden administration took in Afghans, including people who’d worked alongside the American-led coalition throughout 20 years of war.
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The pitch for an even more expansive travel ban is just one part of Trump’s vision of a second term as a vengeance tour against his enemies and the favored targets of the right. Over the past few months, Trump has proposed bringing back firing squads and mass executions, fantasizing about journalists being raped in prison, and bombing Mexico.
“I am your retribution,” the former president said during his appearance at CPAC.