By Emily Stephenson
STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told crowds in Michigan and Minnesota on Sunday his administration would not admit refugees without local support, using appearances in states with growing Muslim communities to criticize Democrat Hillary Clinton’s support for accepting people fleeing Syria.
Trump said in Minneapolis that people there had already seen the results of “faulty” vetting with Minnesota’s community of Somali Muslims. He said what was happening in Michigan, home to several cities with Muslim communities, was “disgraceful.”
Trump held rallies in both states as part of his final push toward Tuesday’s presidential election, even though Michigan and Minnesota traditionally support Democrats in White House races.
“Here in Michigan, you’ve seen firsthand the problems caused with the refugee program … it puts your security at risk and it puts enormous pressure on your schools and your community resources,” Trump told an outdoor rally in Sterling Heights.
“A Trump administration will not admit any refugees without the support of the local community.”
Muslim American groups have criticized Trump for comments such as endorsing police profiling as an anti-terrorism tactic. He initially called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, later changing it to bar immigration from what he called “terror-prone” regions until extensive vetting measures were in place.
Clinton has praised Democratic President Barack Obama’s plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016 and said the United States could do more.
Trump said her plan to admit refugees from Syria would import “generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism.”
His vow to block people fleeing Islamic State violence in Syria and instead form “safe zones” in the Middle East has been a theme of his campaign.
On Sunday, Trump framed the issue in local terms. What was happening in Minnesota was a “disaster,” he told the crowd at a Minneapolis airplane hangar.
“Some of them, they’re joining ISIS, they’re spreading their extremist views all over the country,” he said of refugees there, citing a September stabbing attack in St. Cloud, Minnesota, as justification for his proposals.
Somalis began arriving in Minnesota in the late 1980s and early 1990s, fleeing a civil war in their Horn of Africa nation. There are about 39,000 living in the state, according to U.S. census data from 2014.
Somali-Americans have expressed concern about how they are perceived after a trial earlier this year where three young men from the community were convicted of trying to join Islamic State.
(Reporting by Peter Cooney)