What We Know About Donald Trump's Proposed Ideological Tests

The plan comes months after he proposed a "total and complete" Muslim ban.

ByABC News
August 16, 2016, 12:26 PM

— -- Donald Trump touted his new plan for ideological tests as a way to prevent would-be terrorists from entering the United States, but he has yet to detail how it would work.

The proposal follows his months-long call for a “total and complete” ban on foreign Muslims’ entering the U.S., which was also short on specifics.

The ideological tests, which Trump introduced in a speech that addressed “radical Islamic terrorism” Monday, are the latest version of Trump’s efforts.

Here’s what is known – and not known – about the plan.

Who Would Be Tested?

Trump said that the ideological tests would be aimed at people attempting to visit or live in the United States from “regions where adequate screening cannot take place.”

The State Department would be tasked with determining those areas, he said, adding that “there are many such regions.”

“We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume, based on new circumstances or new procedures,” he said Monday.

He argued that the “current immigration flows are simply too large to perform adequate screening.”

Trump named no countries but cited the number of immigrants from the Middle East as an example of the scope of the perceived problem.

What Would They Be Asked?

Trump did not give any examples of questions that would be asked, but said he wants to “only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.”

“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. I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme, extreme vetting,” he said.

This is not the first time Trump has cited a past practice as the grounds for reintroducing certain reforms.

When he introduced his proposed Muslim ban, Trump cited three presidential proclamations that Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted after the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Now Trump would be on the lookout for people harboring “hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” he said, as well as “screening out all members or the sympathizers of terrorist groups.”

“Those who do not believe in our Constitution or who support bigotry and hatred will not be admitted for immigration into our country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country and to embrace a tolerant American society should be issued visas,” he said.

Other Factors at Play

Aside from the proposed ideological tests, Trump said one of his first acts as president would be to create a commission on “radical Islam” that he hopes would “include reformist voices in the Muslim community who will hopefully work with us.”

He said, for instance, that there were warning signs involving the Boston Marathon bombers, the San Bernardino shooters and the Orlando nightclub gunman that could have led authorities to prevent the attacks.

“We want to build bridges and erase divisions,” Trump said. “The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of radical Islam to identify the warning signs of radicalization and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization. This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators and immigration screeners.”

During his speech, Trump also said he plans to keep the military base and prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba open as part of a “renewed emphasis on human intelligence.” He said that foreign fighters would be tried by military commissions.

Last week, when asked about the future of Guantanamo, he said that he would be “fine” with trying U.S. citizens in military tribunals, which would violate federal law.

He mentioned nothing about trying U.S. citizens at Guantanamo during his speech Monday.

Trump’s Previous Plan

In December, Trump called for a temporary “total and complete” ban on Muslims’ entering the U.S., but as time went on, he made more and more exceptions.

The day after his initial announcement, he clarified that U.S. citizens who are Muslim would be allowed back in the country. Then he said that Muslim politicians and athletes headed to the United States for sports competitions would also be exempt, though he did not specify what level of officials or athletes.

Three months later, he added another exception: his friends.

During an MSNBC town hall event in Wisconsin, Trump said he was getting calls from friends of his — “They’re very rich Muslims” — who he said told him that the proposed ban was “a great thing.”

Referring to those friends, he said, “They’ll come in,” and when host Chris Matthews pushed him on the question, Trump said, “They’ll come in. And you’ll have exceptions.”

In May, Trump backtracked, saying that it was a “temporary ban ... hasn’t been called for yet. Nobody’s done it. This is just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on,” he said during an interview with Fox News.

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