- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Without mentioning him by name, the top U.S. diplomat at the United Nations criticized presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call to halt the flow of refugees from Muslim countries, saying this sort of policy “personally offends” her.

U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, an immigrant from Ireland herself, said on Wednesday that some lawmakers have mischaracterized terror threats in the wake of this month’s terrorist attack in Orlando to justify a crackdown on immigration and accepting refugees.

“Ignorance and prejudice make for bad advisers,” Ms. Power said in remarks on the global refugee crisis at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “Yet, that is what is driving the ill-informed and biased reactions we have seen after these and other attacks from some in our country.”

Ms. Power explicitly cited the House Republicans recent legislation efforts to curb refugee resettlement in the U.S., and her other examples seemed to point right at Mr. Trump’s ever-evolving temporary ban on Muslims from certain countries.

“Some are calling for even broader bans such as banning all immigrants based on their religion, or suspending immigration from certain parts of the world with a history of terrorism,” Ms. Power said.

Although these policies are meant to make Americans feel safe, Ms. Power said they actually strengthen the Islamic State.

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“When we blame all Muslims, all Syrians, or all members of any other group because of the actions of individuals, we fall into the trap of asserting collective guilt,” Ms. Power said. “We empower the narrow minded ideology that we are trying to defeat.”

The ambassador said the fear that terrorists will use the refugee influx to sneak onto U.S. soil is reasonable, but argued that the refugee-screening process is too thorough and time-consuming for groups like the Islamic State to use.

“If your aim is to attack the United States, it is hard to imagine a more difficult way of getting here than by posing as a refugee,” Ms. Power said.

Ms. Power spent most of her speech detailing the magnitude of the current refugee crisis, making the case that the U.S. should welcome more refugees while persuading other nations to do the same.

In September, President Obama will host a “Leaders’ Summit” at the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering to rally countries around the refugee crisis. Ms. Power said the president will seek to increase humanitarian aid, double the number of resettled refugees, and increase the number of refugees in school and with the legal right to work. Satisfying these goals would be a small step, not a panacea, Ms. Power said.

Although the U.S. is the leading donor, Ms. Power said the nation can do more. The Obama administration will scale up resettlement efforts — permitting 85,000 refugees to resettle in the U.S. this year, and 100,000 next year, she said. Additionally, Ms. Power announced that the White House will launch a private-sector call to action Thursday, designed to recruit companies to provide jobs and donate services to refugees.

Ms. Power called for a collective effort from businesses, churches and ordinary people, saying, “Only when all of these efforts come together will we have a chance of rising to the challenge that we face.”

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