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Hillary Clinton faces backlash after European migration comments

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  • Hillary Clinton is facing a backlash after arguing that
    European leaders should stop offering “refuge and support” to
    migrants in order to assuage the concerns of a growing right-wing
    populism across the continent.  
  • “Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message
    — ‘we are not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and
    support,'” Clinton said in an interview published Thursday. 
  • The former secretary of state’s comments were met with
    widespread condemnation from pro-immigration advocates and
    progressive politicians around the world. 

Hillary Clinton is facing backlash after arguing that European
leaders should stop offering “refuge and support” to migrants in
order to assuage the concerns of a growing right-wing populism
across the continent.  

“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because
that is what lit the flame,” Clinton said in 
an
interview
with The Guardian that was conducted before
the midterm elections and published on Thursday. 

The former secretary of state said that while she admired the
generosity of leaders like German chancellor Angela Merkel, who
opened up the country’s borders in 2015 as migrants fled war and
political crises in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. 

“I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that
were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I
think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send
a very clear message — ‘we are not going to be able to continue
to provide refuge and support’ — because if we don’t deal with
the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic,”
she said.

But many — on both sides of the Atlantic — viewed Clinton’s
comments as a capitulation to right-wing populism. A wide array
of immigration activists and scholars, pundits, and politicians
expressed shock and concern with Clinton’s comments, which some
pointed out appear to contradict her 2016 campaign position on
welcoming immigrants and refugees. 

“The
moment we give in to right populism is the moment we lose,”

tweeted
 David Lammy, a Labour party politician. “Let us
stand not against migrants, but in unapologetic solidarity with
them. They give so much to our economy, culture and way of life.”

Clinton’s position also highlights the Democratic Party’s lack of
clarity and consensus on the issue of immigration. 

“Deeply misguided and unfortunate comment from someone who must
know better,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a liberal Washington State
lawmaker, tweeted

More than one million migrants arrived in the EU in 2015, but
migration to the continent has dropped sharply since then
— less
than 100,000 people
have made it to Europe’s shores this
year — in part because of the policies of deterrence that Clinton
is now promoting. 

Clinton argued that Trump’s exploitation of both racist,
anti-immigrant sentiment, and legitimate grievances about border
security was key in his 2016 victory and continues to buoy his
popularity. 

“The use of immigrants as a political device and as a symbol of
government gone wrong, of attacks on one’s heritage, one’s
identity, one’s national unity has been very much exploited by
the current administration here,” she said.

Right-wing populist parties have seen a resurgence in Europe in
the last few years — with anti-immigrant candidates taking power
in Poland, Hungary, Italy, and Austria — while a right-wing
party has seen a surge in popularity in Germany. 

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