Facebook Removes Trump Campaign Ads Linking Refugees to COVID

The video featured Joe Biden discussing border security alleging 'an increase in refugees' would pose a public health risk

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a roundtable on immigration and border security at U.S. Border Patrol McAllen Station, during a visit to the southern border in McAllen, Texas, January 10, 2019.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a roundtable on immigration and border security at U.S. Border Patrol McAllen Station, during a visit to the southern border in McAllen, Texas, January 10, 2019. Credit: Evan Vucci/AP Photo
Reuters
Haaretz

Facebook said Wednesday that it removed Trump campaign advertisements that insinuated accepting refugees from abroad would lead to an increase in COVID019 cases, NBC news reports. 

The ads shows a video of Joe Biden talking about the border and asylum seekers, making unsubstantiated claims that Biden wants to increase refugees from Syria, Somalia and Yemen by 700 percent.

According to NBC, the video was overlaid with suggestions over “the health risks” from an “increase in refugees.”

“We rejected these ads because we don’t allow claims that people’s physical safety, health, or survival is threatened by people on the basis of their national origin or immigration status,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement.

The Trump administration said on Wednesday it intends to allow only 15,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the 2021 fiscal year, setting another record low in the history of the modern refugee program.

The State Department said the proposal reflected the Trump administration's prioritizing of the "safety and well-being of Americans, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."

The refugee cap was cut to 18,000 last year, but only roughly half that many refugees were let in as increased vetting and the coronavirus have slowed arrivals.

The president typically sets yearly refugee levels around the beginning of each fiscal year. Under U.S. law, the president must consult Congress before finalizing the annual number of refugees it plans to accept but the determination is ultimately set by the White House.

The proposal includes specific allocations for refugees who suffered or fear persecution on the basis of religion, for refugees from Iraq who helped the United States; and for refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Cuba, and Venezuela.

Trump's Democratic challenger in the November 3 presidential election, Joe Biden, has pledged to raise refugee admissions to 125,000 a year if he defeats Trump in November.

However, Biden has not said how quickly he would raise the cap and advocates say the program could take years to recover after Trump-era reductions.

Tens of thousands of refugees are in the pipeline for arrival to the United States, many with applications far along in the approval and vetting process.

Krish Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which helps resettle recently arrived refugees, called the cuts "a complete abdication of our moral duty and all that we stand for as a nation" in a post on Twitter late on Wednesday.

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