More than once during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump warned about the threat posed by improperly vetted Somali refugees only to be called insensitive and racist for raising the issue.
Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton clashed repeatedly on the issue of refugees throughout the election cycle. While Trump promised to suspend the influx of refugees due to security concerns, Clinton called for an increase in refugees brought to the U.S.
While much of the refugee debate focused on those coming from Syria, Trump did highlight the risks associated with Somali refugees in states like Maine and Minnesota, which have received high numbers of displaced Somalians. (RELATED: OHIO STATE ATTACKER IDENTIFIED: Everything We Know About Abdul Razak Ali Artan)
Speaking a rally in Maine last August, Trump warned that Somali refugees provide a “rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamist terror groups.” FBI Director James Comey has issued similar warnings.
“And as Maine knows, a major destination for Somali refugees. Right? Am I right?” Trump said. “Well they’re all talking about it, Maine Somali refugees. We admit hundreds of thousands, you admit into Maine and to other places in the United States, hundreds of thousands of refugees, and they’re coming from among the most dangerous territories and countries across the world.”
He went on to cite a Washington Times article on resettlement efforts of Somalian refugees in Minnesota, noting that “the effort to resettle large groups of Somali refugees is having the unintended consequence of creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is….creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamist terror groups.”
The mayor of Portland, Maine accused Trump of standing on “values of bigotry and xenophobia” while speaking at a protest of Trump’s comments held at the city hall. The Somali Community Center of Maine, which helped organize the protests, issued a statement denouncing Trump’s comments. “It is damaging to the psyche of our youth to hear a major party presidential nominee insult our culture and religion,” the community center claimed.
A similar chain of events played out in Minnesota when Trump brought up the issue of Somali refugees. (RELATED: A Year Before ISIS Somali Stabbing Minnesota Gov Told Diversity Skeptics To Leave)
Speaking at a rally in Minnesota two months after a Somali man inspired by ISIS went on a stabbing spree in a Minnesota mall, Trump said Minnesotans have “seen first-hand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with very large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval.” Media coverage of Trump’s comments described them as “dark.”
The Democratic mayor of Minneapolis responded to Trump’s comments by accusing him of “Islamophobia.”