President Trump doubled down Friday on his assertion, published in a London tabloid, that immigration has damaged the cultural fabric of Europe, while British Prime Minister Theresa May said it “has been good” for the United Kingdom.
During a joint press conference at the prime minister’s country home in Chequers, Trump was asked to elaborate on his comments on immigration — published in the Sun newspaper on Thursday — in which he said “allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame.”
“I think it’s been very bad for Europe,” Trump said. “I think it’s been very bad for Europe. Europe is a place I know very well, and I think that what has happened is very tough. It’s a very tough situation. I mean, you see the same terror attacks that I do. You see them a lot.”
“I think it’s changing the culture,” the president continued. “I think it’s a very negative thing for Europe. I think it’s very negative.”
Trump added: “I know it’s politically not necessarily correct to say that, but I’ll say it and I’ll say it loud. And I think they better watch themselves. You are changing culture. You are changing a lot of things … it’s a very sad situation. It’s very unfortunate. But I do not think it’s good for Europe, and I do not think it’s good for our country.”
The president bemoaned U.S. immigration policy and due process for those who cross the border illegally. “We’re, as you know, far superior to anything that’s happened before, but we have very bad immigration laws,” Trump said. “I don’t even call them laws. I call them — it’s just like, you walk across the border, you put one foot on the land, and now you’re tied up in a lawsuit for five years. It’s the craziest thing anyone’s ever seen.”
Standing at a podium a few feet away, May offered a starkly different view.
“The U.K. has a proud history of welcoming people who are fleeing persecution to our country,” she said. “We have a proud history of welcoming people who want to come to our country to contribute to our economy and contribute to our society. And over the years overall immigration has been good for the U.K. It’s brought people with different backgrounds, different outlooks here to the U.K.”
May added: “What is important is we have control of our borders. What is important is we have a set of rules that enables us to determine who comes into our country.”
The press conference was held in Chequers, 40 miles northwest of London, where thousands of people took to the streets to protest Trump’s U.K. visit.
In his interview with the Sun, Trump he felt “unwelcome” due to the demonstrations, which included a giant balloon that depicted Trump as a baby.
“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” he said.
He also slammed London Mayor Sadiq Khan for allowing so many migrants to come into the city.
“I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad,” Trump said. “I look at cities in Europe, and I can be specific if you’d like. You have a mayor who has done a terrible job in London. He has done a terrible job. Take a look at the terrorism that is taking place. Look at what is going on in London. I think he has done a very bad job on terrorism.”
Khan, the first-ever Muslim elected mayor of London, offered a sharp rebuke to Trump’s comments on Friday morning.
“Linking increased crime with increased immigration to Europe — I’ve seen no evidential basis for that,” Khan told CNN. “Secondly, I’m not responsible for immigration policies across Europe.”
Khan added: “Immigration has been a source of huge benefits to our city and our country economically, socially and culturally. And by that, I include Americans who make our city the greatest city in the world.”
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