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Trump Tells Donors He’ll Deport “Any Student” Who Protests Against Gaza Genocide

Both US-born and foreign students have constitutionally recognized rights to free speech.

Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the Libertarian Party National Convention on May 25, 2024 in Washington, D.C.

During a donor event earlier this month, former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president this year, said that he would deport students who protest in solidarity with Palestine if he becomes president again.

Trump made the authoritarian remarks at a May 14 private campaign event with high-paying GOP donors. The Washington Post was the first to report on the former president’s comments.

Trump specifically targeted foreign students in the U.S. who are here on education visas, but suggested that any student at a college or university who participates in pro-Palestine protests could be subject to deportation under his watch.

“One thing I do is, any student that protests, I throw them out of the country,” Trump told his donors, adding that, “a lot of foreign students…[are] going to behave” upon hearing of that threat.

Both U.S.-born and foreign students have constitutionally recognized rights to free speech, assembly and due process in the U.S. Trump’s proposition would ignore past precedents on such matters.

Trump’s statement — specifically the phrase “any student” — indicates that he would not just seek to deport foreign students, but that he would also attempt to deport students who are U.S. citizens.

Throughout his campaign, the GOP nominee for president has commented relatively little on Israel’s genocide in Gaza, which has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians so far; in March, he suggested that Israel’s war on Palestinians in Gaza never would have started if he had remained in the White House for a second term rather than President Joe Biden, and urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to escalate the genocide, telling him to “finish the problem.”

Trump’s comments to donors that he would flout the standards of free speech protections in the U.S. are just the latest authoritarian rhetoric he has dished out in the past months. Trump recently asked his supporters whether he should be a three-term president, presuming he wins the 2024 election, in direct violation of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. He has also floated the idea of becoming a dictator if he wins, dubiously vowing that he would only be a dictator for one day, in order to enact anti-immigrant and anti-environmental policies.

Even if he loses, Trump suggested (as he did four years ago) that he wouldn’t accept the loss as legitimate and that he wouldn’t condemn potential violence from his supporters being conducted in his name.

“Trump wants to give skeptical voters a reason to set aside their misgivings. That’s why he won’t directly call for violence,” Political Wire’s Taegan Goddard wrote earlier this month. “But make no mistake: He’s already telling his supporters to get ready to take matters into their own hands.”

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