In response to Orlando attack, Trump renews call for immigration ban

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses an audience at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, June 15, 2016 © Chris Aluka Berry
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has again called for restricting immigration from certain countries, arguing that it is the only way to prevent more terrorist attacks like Sunday’s Orlando nightclub massacre.

Trump had initially called for a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration to the US after the San Bernardino attack in December, a mass shooting perpetrated by a Muslim couple. He renewed the call, in somewhat more general terms, during a speech in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday.

Speaking to a full house at the historic Fox Theatre, the presumptive GOP nominee said the US should suspend immigration from certain countries “until we can figure out what’s going on.” Though he did not single out Muslims, Trump brought up Sharia – Islamic law – as incompatible with American values.

“We can’t let these things happen anymore,” Trump said, referring to Sunday’s attack in Orlando, Florida that left 49 dead and more than 50 severely injured. The shooter pledged allegiance to Islamic State during the attack. The FBI is treating the attack as both terrorism and a hate crime.

“How can this possibly be happening in the United States?” Trump asked. “Do you agree with me, protester?” he said, addressing a man who was heckling him from the audience. “Or do you think it’s easy to be weak and ineffective like we are right now?”

Assuring the audience that he would “save” the Second Amendment, Trump dismissed arguments for stricter gun control by pointing out that nobody at the nightclub had been armed, and that France and Belgium had strict gun laws, before concluding that the terrorists had been able to kill with ease and impunity as a result.

“It’s happening all over, and it’s getting worse. And it’s going to continue to get worse until they respect us,” Trump said. “They have no respect for us whatsoever.”

Instead of the political correctness embraced by President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the US needs to stop the influx of migrants who mean the country harm, the GOP presidential hopeful argued.

“We have to be tough, we have to be smart, and we have to be vigilant,” he said, to the applause of the audience. “We have to stop people from pouring into our country, until we find out what the hell is going on.”

The exclusion of foreigners would be tempered by inclusion at home, however. “When I say ‘Make America great again,’ we have to say ‘for everybody',” Trump said, expanding on his campaign slogan.

Trump took a jab at Clinton, pointing out that the Clinton Foundation has taken “tens of millions of dollars from countries that want to enslave women” and “kill gays.” In 2008, the foundation disclosed it had received between $10 and $25 million in donations from Saudi Arabia.

Obama “doesn’t have a clue; he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Trump argued. “He gives a speech yesterday, a long speech that at the end of it nobody knew what he was talking about.”

Noting that the Orlando attacker was born in the US, Trump pointed out that “his parents weren’t. And his ideas weren’t born here – his ideas were borne from someplace else.”

He described the great migration into Europe and the US as a “horrible thing to watch” and warned, “This is a problem that, if we don’t solve it, it’s going to eat our country alive.”

Several dozen protesters gathered outside the theater, chanting and carrying placards denouncing Trump. Atlanta police arrested several of them, but there was no large-scale disturbance comparable to the riots outside the Trump rallies in California. The protesters’ passions may have been dampened by the rain that began to pour as the rally ended.