Originally Published in The Washington Post
Eugene Scott - October 30, 2020
And Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president, announced that the administration’s immigration plans — if Trump is reelected — will involve multiple efforts to curtail the number of refugees coming to the United States, including limiting asylum grants, outlawing sanctuary cities and adding tougher screening to the travel ban for visa applicants, according to NBC News.
Trump tried to create anxiety in voters less than a month ago in Minnesota, an important swing state with a large refugee population, by claiming that Biden would significantly increase the state’s refugee population.
“Another massive issue for Minnesota is the election of Joe Biden’s plan to inundate your state with a historic flood of refugees,” Trump said. “It’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen. But they pledged a 700 percent increase in refugees. 700 percent!”
He singled out Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a frequent critic of and target of the president who fled to the United States as a child refugee from a war-torn Somalia, while accusing her without any evidence of being involved with a cash-for-ballot harvesting scheme. The allegation appears to have begun with Project Veritas, a right-wing group that attempts to expose the mainstream media and those on the left via undercover videos.
“How the hell did Minnesota elect her?” Trump asked about Omar, who was first elected in 2018 with 78 percent of the vote. “What the hell is wrong with you people? Right? What the hell happened?”
Trump went on to indicate that if he is reelected, a second Trump administration could further decrease the number of refugees allowed into the country — further muddying America’s status internationally as a global leader in creating a safe place for refugees. His administration proposed Thursday further reducing the number of refugees accepted into the country to a record low.
Earlier this month, the administration set the refugee cap to its lowest number ever: 15,000 — which is 3,000 fewer than the 18,000 ceiling the administration set for fiscal 2020. Trump froze refugee admissions in March, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the cause. But the reality is that the president has been decreasing the number of refugees admitted to the United States since entering the White House, with the support of his base. The idea about the change in foreign policy is rooted in Trump’s belief that it is not America’s responsibility to assist those suffering globally to the degree that the United States has historically. And some Trump supporters backed him in 2016 because of their own anxieties about American culture changing because of an increase in ethnic and religious diversity. Evangelical Christians — one of Trump’s most faithful voting blocs — are least likely to think that the United States has a responsibility to welcome refugees into the country.
And as Trump and his supporters have been accused of Islamophobia in their responses to Omar, the president’s administration has even shown hostility to welcoming Christian refugees to the United States. According to a report from two Christian advocacy groups, Christian refugees fleeing persecution have seen the greatest decline — 90 percent — since 2015.
Trump’s tweet Thursday was a reminder that for him and his supporters, the United States at its greatest is not about becoming more inclusive but about making America resemble that of yesteryear. After years of predictions that the future of the country is one that is more diverse than previously seen, Trump and his administration are doing all they can to not only put the brakes on that process but also reverse it — even if it means that the lives of some of America’s international neighbors are at risk.