"What he’s saying is no different than the situation during World War II, when we put the Japanese in camps," state Rep. Al Baldasaro (R) said, according to ABC affiliate WMUR. "The people who attacked innocent people in Paris came through open borders. From a military mind standpoint, all Donald Trump is saying is to do what needs to be done until we get a handle on how to do background checks."
By Tuesday morning, Trump's proposal was being compared to America's controversial past — and Trump himself was being compared to worse:
When asked whether he would have supported Japanese internment camps, Trump told Time that he could not say for certain.
"I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer," he told the magazine. "I certainly hate the concept of it. But I would have had to be there at the time to give you a proper answer."
The billionaire Republican businessman stood behind his proposal during a tour of television talk shows on Tuesday morning. But when asked whether he was in agreement with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, he gave the morning news shows an emphatic no.
"No, I'm not. No, I'm not," he said.
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Trump pointed to immigration actions against "Germans, Italians and Japanese" taken by Franklin D. Roosevelt — "a respected president, a highly respected president," he said.
Host Joe Scarborough asked: "You certainly aren't proposing internment camps, are you?"
"I am not proposing that," Trump said, moving back to Roosevelt's presidential proclamations. "It was tough stuff, but it wasn't internment. We're not talking about the Japanese internment camps. No, not at all. But we have to get our head around a very serious problem, and it's getting worse."
When Japanese bombers terrorized Pearl Harbor in 1941, many Americans began to fear – and, no doubt, despise — people of Japan descent. The next year, the U.S. military started pulling Japanese Americans from their communities and forcing them into internment camps. When it was all said and done, about 110,000 people had unwittingly become the victims of racial phobia.
It was, as The Washington Post's Jeff Guo noted, "a stain on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s record":
The lesson is that paranoia and ethnic bias can lead the country to commit actions it will later regret. The internment of the Japanese-Americans — two-thirds of whom were U.S.-born — was a "great injustice," in the words of one former president. The events illustrate the mistake of stigmatizing an entire population over suspicions of people who share their ethnicity.
Last month, David Bowers, the mayor of Roanoke, said he wanted to suspend support for Syrian refugees until “normalcy is restored.”
"I'm reminded that Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from [the Islamic State] now is just as real and serious a threat as that from our enemies then," said Bowers, a Democrat and a Hillary Clinton supporter.
He later apologized, saying: “It’s just not in my heart to be racist or bigoted.”
On Monday, after Trump's plan for Muslims was announced, Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Post: "One has to wonder what Donald Trump will say next as he ramps up his anti-Muslim bigotry. Where is there left for him to go? Are we talking internment camps? Are we talking the final solution to the Muslim question? I feel like I’m back in the 1930s."
On Tuesday morning, Trump said he had a message for American Muslims.
"We love you, we want to work with you, we want you to turn in the bad ones," he said. "We want to get back to a normal, peaceful life."
Jenna Johnson and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.