Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Monday pivoted off the weekend bombing in Manhattan to double down on his call for racial and religious profiling, utilizing the moment to call for the U.S. to close its borders to the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing war at home.
Trump spoke with the conservative morning show Fox & Friends hours after five unexploded devices were discovered near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, one day after a crude bomb injured 29 people near West 23rd Street in New York City.
"We've been weak," Trump said, "our country's been weak, we've been letting people in by their thousands and thousands and I've been saying you've got to stop it," referring to the resettling of Syrian refugees, something that humanitarian groups say that the United States has dismally lagged behind on.
"Just last week," he continued, "[President Barack] Obama said he's going to let 100,000 people in from Syria, 100,000. Hillary Clinton wants to increase what he's let in, thousands and thousands and thousands, they don’t know, they can’t be properly vetted."
When asked by the host what he means by "getting tough" on terrorism, Trump responded: "We have to hit them much harder over there."
In terms of his domestic policy, he continued: "Our local police, they know who a lot of these people are. They're afraid to do anything about it because they don't want to be accused of profiling... They're trying to be so politically correct in our country and this is only going to get worse."
As progressive commentator John Nichols pointed out on social media, the "political correctness" that Trump clearly wants to abolish is a right protected in the U.S. Constitution.
Trump goes all in for religious profiling. He is effectively claiming the Constitution is too politically correct. pic.twitter.com/DEcDobBkmp— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) September 19, 2016
The New York billionaire further argued that the U.S. should look to Israel as a model for such policing, adding that Israeli police have "done an unbelievable job, and they'll profile. They profile. They see somebody that's suspicious, they will profile, they will take that person in, they'll check [them] out."
Further, the controversial call to profile and ban Muslims from entering the country has been one of the cornerstones of Trump's presidential campaign.
And while Trump argued on conservative media that Syrian refugees ought to punished for this latest act of violence, New York officials announced Monday that they have taken a suspect—Afghan-born, U.S. citizen Ahman Khan Rahami—into custody after a shoot-out with police.
For her part, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton issued a statement outlining her "comprehensive plan" for confronting the terror threat, including "launching an intelligence surge to help identify and thwart attacks before they can be carried out, and to spot lone wolf attackers." She said the U.S. also needs to "work with Silicon Valley to counter propaganda and recruitment efforts online."
"Americans have faced threats before, and our resilience in the face of them only makes us stronger," she concluded. "I am confident we will once again choose resolve over fear."