Thursday at a discussion with The Washington Post, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said President Donald Trump’s language and policy on immigration and refugees was “un-American and appalling.”
Partial transcript as follows:
DAVID IGNATIUS: Let me just ask you, as somebody who came to America not simply as an immigrant, but as a refugee fleeing war, chaos in Europe, what do you think when you hear President Trump use some of the language that he does about immigrants?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I’m appalled, but let me just—something that my father used to say, when we were in England, he would say, people were very kind and they’d come up and say, ‘We’re so sorry your country has been taken over by a terrible dictator. You’re welcomed here, what can we do to help you and when are you going home?’
And when we came to the United States people would say, ‘We’re so sorry that your country was taken over by a terrible system, you are welcome here, what can we do to help you and when will you become a citizen?’ And my father said that is what made America different from every other country. For me when I see what is happening now, I consider it an outrage. This country is based on diversity and people coming here and being proud to be Americans.
One thing I love to do, is doing naturalization ceremonies, I can’t swear people in because I’m not an officer of the law but I can give them their naturalization certificate. The first time I did it was 2004 in Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, and I figured since I had his job I could do that. And all of a sudden a man said, ‘Can you believe I’m a refugee and I just got my citizenship paper, naturalization papers from the secretary of state,’ and I went up to him and I said, ‘Can you believe that a refugee is secretary of state?’ And so when I think about what really people want to do and contribute and be a part of this country.
The stunning number recently has been is we have deplored what, in fact, happened in Syria, where people were destroyed or suffered from a chemical attack. The number of Syrians that have been able to come to the United States is less than the number of people that were affected by that chemical weapon. So, really terrible in terms of—I have traveled around the United States a lot. We are a very large country. We have a lot of room.
And I think people should be welcomed here, having been vetted in a number of different ways, but really, to be welcoming because that is what this country is based on. So, I think it’s un-American and appalling what is happening and then the other thing is, we can’t tell other countries what to do if we aren’t showing some kind of leadership in this.
And one of the issues is, as we get more into what I think is happening in Europe, a lot of it has to do with the fact that migrants, refugees, are viewed—are not welcomed and if we want to tell the Europeans to take more, how can we possibly do that if our—if we are banning certain people, some of them very specifically against Muslims, and just generally, I think, un-American.
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