The Dalai Lama criticized President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda on Thursday, and urged the United States to lead the world in caring for migrant children illegally crossing the southern border.
He issued his words of advice in an interview with British press.
Speaking with the BBC, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people cited President Trump’s immigration policies and the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement as areas where he’s at odds with the administration.
“When he became president he expressed America first. That is wrong,” the Dalai Lama said.
“When I saw pictures of some of those young children, I was sad,” he added. “America … should take a global responsibility.”
His remarks come as Democrats decry the conditions inside U.S. border facilities housing migrants children.
The agencies responsible for housing the migrants after they arrive — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handles adults, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which handles minors — have been swamped by an influx of migration.
To deal with the continuing surge, the federal government has been erecting tent complexes near Border Patrol stations in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso, and converting U.S. military bases and other buildings into makeshift emergency shelters. Federal officials plan to convert a compound in Carrizo Springs that once housed oil field workers into an emergency shelter for 1,600 unaccompanied minors.
Over the weekend, President Trump delayed planned raids across 10 major cities to give Congressional leaders team to solve a host of border security issues.
The Buddhist’s criticism marks a reversal from his 2016 comments in which he said he had “no worries” about the results of the 2016 election.
“I feel during the election, the candidate has more freedom to express. Now once they [are] elected, having the responsibility, then they have to carry their co-operation, their work, according [to] reality,” he told reporters days after President Trump’s historic victory over Democrat rival Hillary Clinton. “So I have no worries.”
In another portion of the wide-ranging interview, the Dalai Lama warned Europe could become “Muslim” or “African” if migrants are allowed to remain on the continent.
“European countries should take these refugees and give them education and training, then the aim is return to their own land,” stated the 83-year-old.
“A limited number is OK, but whole Europe eventually become [a] Muslim country? Impossible. Or [an]African country? Also impossible,” he added.
The spiritual leader also told the BBC that President Trump has not requested a meeting with him, however, he expressed willingness for the two to do so. The Dalai Lama met with President Barack Obama several times and was awarded the Congressional gold medal by President George W. Bush.
UPI contributed to this report.