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Trump: the US will not turn into a “migrant camp” or “refugee holding facility”

The president expressed strong anti-asylum rhetoric on Monday.

Greek Island Of Lesbos On The Frontline Of The Migrant Crisis
There’s a global refugee crisis. The United States has all but shut the door on it.
Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

President Donald Trump says he doesn’t want the United States to turn into a “migrant camp.”

“The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility —won’t be,” Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council Monday. “You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places, we can’t allow that to happen to the United States.”

“Not on my watch,” Trump said.

In other words, the Statue of Liberty’s famous inscription of “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” be damned.

This sentiment reaffirms what has been a Trump administration policy toward refugees and asylum seekers from week one in office. Trump has all but shut the door on refugees, first with a 120-day refugee ban and then with a subsequent ban on refugees from what the administration called “high-risk” nations, which included several Muslim-majority countries and North Korea. The administration lifted those restrictions in January 2018 but has increased security measures for refugee applicants.

The impacts of these policies have been severe, especially at a time when the number of refugees worldwide continues to reach unprecedented levels. The United Nations estimates there are 65.6 million people who have been forced from their homes, 22.5 million of whom are refugees. More than half of the refugees are children.

As Vox’s Dara Lind explained, while the US resettled tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in the final years of the Obama administration, under Trump, the United States is on pace to resettle fewer than 100 Syrian refugees this fiscal year, which ends September 30.

Trump is berating those who welcome refugees

Trump has made clear he has no intention of making the United States act like some of its European allies.

On Monday, Trump censured Germany’s open-door policy toward refugees Monday, falsely claiming that it has resulted in an increase in crime. As Vox’s Matt Yglesias pointed out, Germany’s crime rate has fallen to its lowest level since 1992.

It is true that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently facing fierce political backlash from Germany’s anti-immigration right wing for settling almost a million refugees. Europe is at a crossroads with the continued influx of refugees — a crisis that again made headlines this month when Italy’s interior minister turned away two rescue boats carrying 620 refugees, saying the country would no longer be “complicit in the business of illegal immigration.”

Trump’s views have long echoed that populist far-right view. His administration has made a concerted effort to sow terror around refugees and asylum seekers, stoking fear that violent criminals may be trying to abuse the immigration system.

It’s a message that has touched every aspect of the US’s immigration system. Most recently, the Department of Homeland Security has come under fierce scrutiny for implementing a policy that separates asylum-seeking families at the border, prosecuting the adults as criminals and placing children in detention facilities and, in some cases, tent cities.

The United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, denounced the Trump administration’s policy on the border as “unconscionable” Monday.

“The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable. I call on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children,” Zeid said.

The Trump administration has only emphasized its policy, attempting to misdirect blame toward the Democrats. Trump has falsely claimed they are to blame for the family separations.

In reality, the administration’s decision to separate children from their parents at the border is a clear extension of Trump’s longstanding anti-migrant beliefs.