* Congresscritter Tammy Duckworth tried to blame Mark Kirk for radicalizing American Islamists yesterday, then kinda walked it back, then kinda didn’t…
“In the case of those two young people, the Iraq refugees in Texas, they were actually, radicalized here in the United States,” Duckworth said. “They came as teenagers and they were radicalized because they’d been on those talk hotlines with ISIS. Because they see people like Mark Kirk demonizing Muslim and Islam and wanting to shut down our borders. That’s how we turn people against us.”
Immediately though, one of the moderators asked, “You think they were radicalized by U.S. politicians?”
“No, I think they were radicalized by ISIS, who are attempting to get U.S. politicians and the United States to react in fear,” Duckworth responded.
When asked again about her saying politicians like Kirk were responsible for radicalization, she said, “Donald Trump is out there wanting to shut down all Muslims from entering the country. We cannot go back against our values.”
* Kirk was not amused…
* Terrorists are “manipulating the refugee crisis” in Europe, for sure. Refugees are flooding over porous borders. To compare that situation to the refugees waiting years to get into the US because of our screening process is bogus.
But Duckworth got way ahead of herself when she said the US should accept 200,000 refugees. Screening that many folks at the current pace would take many, many years, if not decades. So, does she want to increase the pace? If so, how?
* Either way, if you’re gonna make a serious claim that your opponent is inspiring radicalism, then have the guts to stick with it or don’t level the allegation in the first place.
Sheesh. You’d think she’d never run for office before.
*** UPDATE *** From Duckworth’s office…
Hey Rich—good chatting a few minutes ago. As discussed, the letter that the Congresswoman signed onto—which is the basis for the 200,000 claim that has been floating around (that the Washington Post said was “wrong” and led to a correction from the Associated Press)—is available here.
It endorses a recommendation by Refugee Council USA (a coalition of 20 of the nation’s premiere refugee organizations) for the U.S. to accept 100,000 Syrian refugees, not 200,000 as some have claimed—and that was by the end of 2016, not per year.
With regards to the “does she want to increase the pace/if so, how” questions, that’s explained in the letter sent long before this became a political issue (emphasis added), though the letter is not her only action on this topic:
“There are those who will oppose taking in additional refugees. They will say it is a security risk, or will hurt our economy. This criticism ignores the fact that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program subjects applications to more thorough security vetting than any other traveler or immigrant to the United States. We recognize the importance of security checks and will continue to support your Administration’s strong background checks for all refugees… We pledge we will do everything we can to ensure that, if steps are taken to accommodate additional refugees, there will be adequate additional resources for U.S. resettlement agencies, and for security checks, in order to meet the increased demand.”
Additionally, I’d argue with the implications that the number is:
a) Unreasonably high. In recent American history, we’ve had refugee admission ceilings near 250,000 and over the last decade the ceiling has hovered near 100,000. This chart made from State Department data may be helpful for background on where the numbers have historically been set.
a. As Refugee Council USA notes:
i. “This would not be the first time that the United States proudly carries out our historic tradition of welcoming refugees in large numbers. After the end of the wars in Southeast Asia, the United States resettled 111,000 Vietnamese refugees in 1979 and then essentially doubled that number to 207,000 in 1980.”
b) Out of the political mainstream. Former Ambassador to Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait and Lebanon Ryan Crocker (who served under GOP and Democratic Presidents) recently said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
a. “That’s why the Obama administration should commit to resettling 100,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.”
i. In addition to Amb. Crocker, former Syrian Ambassador (who also served under President George W. Bush) Robert Ford, a group of diplomats from across the political spectrum and even Bush Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz signed onto a letter urging our country’s leaders to support:
1. “100,000 Syrian refugees on an extraordinary basis, over and above the current worldwide refugee ceiling of 70,000.”
Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thanks!
Ben Garmisa | Communications Director
Rep. Tammy Duckworth | Illinois’ 8th Congressional District