Hillary Clinton has managed to simultaneously surprise her critics on the right and her supporters on the left with new comments about migration in Europe. In an interview with the Guardian, Clinton discussed the rise of right-wing populists—she includes President Trump in that mix—and said they won't be held in check until nations get tougher on migration. Clinton has long voiced support for refugees, and her comments seemed to go against her previous views:
- The quote: "I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken, particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel," said Clinton, "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."
- Elaborating: "I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame," said Clinton, referring to how the issue of immigration has inflamed voters. She said, for example, that immigration was largely responsible for the controversial Brexit vote.
- Come again? The New York Times reports that the comments on migration appeared to mark such a shift that many on the left and right were wondering whether Clinton had misspoken. The Clinton camp has not offered a clarification.
- One reaction: "I was kind of shocked," Eskinder Negash of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants tells the Times. "If she's simply saying you need to cut down on refugees coming to Europe to ask for asylum because they have a well-founded fear of persecution, just to appease some right-wing political leaders, it's just not the right thing to do."
- Fellow Democrat: It was a "deeply misguided and unfortunate comment from someone who must know better," tweeted Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state.
- From the right: "It's fair to say that Hillary Clinton wasn’t stating anything other than the truth," writes Jazz Shaw at Hot Air. "The open border policies championed by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have been widely rejected across much of Europe and led to the internal divisiveness which has been tearing the continent apart." But why would Clinton make such remarks now? It could be because she's running, she's not running, or she had a "senior moment," writes Shaw, who leaves it up to the reader to decide which is right.
- Helping Trump: Clinton made the case in the interview that Trump defeated her in 2016 in part by exploiting anti-immigrant sentiment. "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. As the Hill notes, right-wing populism also has been on the rise in Europe, including in Greece, Hungary, Italy, and Sweden, and Clinton warned that populists will continue to win unless migration is reined in.
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