Trump attacks Michigan program assisting Afghan refugees who helped American soldiers - TAI News
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Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Schnecksville, Pa., Saturday, April 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Joe Lamberti)

On April 11, former President Donald Trump attacked a Michigan government program that is assisting refugees of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of those individuals provided translation and interpreting services for American soldiers deployed to the battlefield and face possible retribution, including death, in their home countries.

“In Michigan, radical left Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is handing out $500 a month in cash to anyone who accepts illegal aliens into your homes. Isn’t that nice? She’s calling the scam the Newcomer Rental Subsidy,” Trump said in a video posted to his social media site, Truth Social. “Biden and Whitmer are selecting and stealing your money to give free housing to illegal alien migrants and then asking you to quarter these foreign armies. And that’s what they are: They’re armies.”

A similar claim was made in an advertisement from the group MAGA, Inc., a political action committee backing Trump’s presidential campaign.

The claim was rated “four Pinnochios” by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker column, which the outlet defines as a “whopper” containing a complete falsehood.

The Newcomer Rental Subsidy program that Trump criticized, operated by the state’s Office of Global Michigan, provides refugees with a rental assistance stipend of up to $500 per month for 12 months as they work to become established in the United States.

Contrary to Trump’s allegation, the program only provides help to people who are in the country legally. Michigan officials told the Washington Post that a total of 1,242 applicants and household members have been approved for the program. Of those, 69 hold special immigrant visas that were issued to people who worked for the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan during the wars in those nations.

After U.S. military forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, the Taliban took over the government, and many who had worked as translators and interpreters for Americans faced the threat of violent retribution. The families of those translators have also been threatened and have come to the U.S. seeking safety.

In July 2021, after the first flight of refugees arrived in the U.S. as part of the Operation Allies Refuge program, Biden released a statement: “I want to honor all those in the United States who have spoken out on behalf of these brave Afghans, including the proud community of veterans, who have consistently advocated for the Afghans who were by their side in the field in Afghanistan, often serving as interpreters.”

Whitmer has welcomed refugees from the conflict coming to Michigan.

“As Afghan families flee violence and political persecution, it is our duty and honor to welcome them with that fundamental Michigan spirit of friendliness. The State of Michigan embraces the opportunity to welcome Afghan families as they find a new home to begin their lives,” she said in an August 2021 statement.

Trump has frequently complained about immigration and done so using a litany of falsehoods and distortions.

In December 2023, Trump claimed migrants were “poisoning the blood of our country” in terms that echoed the racist and antisemitic rhetoric of Adolf Hitler.

“I don’t believe, as the president — former president — said again yesterday, that immigrants are polluting — polluting our blood,” Biden said in a speech that month. “The economy and our nation are stronger when we’re tapping into the full, full range of talents in this nation.”

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