Perhaps hoping to pivot from accusations of his boss’ sexism, a senior aide for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed that Americans should be concerned about immigration because it will lead to a rise in female genital mutilation (FGM).
After host Jake Tapper asked why Trump chose to tweet out a photo suggesting that his wife was “hotter” than other presidential candidate’s wives, Miller pivoted to immigration.
“You want to talk about women’s issues? Here’s something we should be talking about,” Stephen Miller said during a panel on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “It is a fact: As a result of uncontrolled migration into this country — you can look this up, it’s a statistic from Equality Now — half a million U.S. girls in this country are at risk of female genital mutilation.”
The statement elicited groans and criticism from the rest of the panel. In particular, Center for American Progress’ Neera Tanden criticized Miller for saying “something outrageous” to divert attention away from allegations about Trump’s sexism. (Disclosure: ThinkProgress is an editorially independent site housed at the Center for American Progress.)
Miller’s statistic about FGM does, in fact, come from a 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report — but it fails to provide the full context of the report.
About 513,000 women and girls are considered “at risk” for FGM — which remains a tradition practiced in African countries — because either they or their parents were born in countries that condone the practice. But that doesn’t mean they’re actually undergoing the practice here in the United States, where FGM has been illegal for the past 20 years. According to a 2014 Population Reference Bureau (PRB) report, there hasn’t been a recent increase in the practice in the United States. And a review of FGM studies in Europe concluded that children born to an immigrant family “run relatively little risk of undergoing FGM/C,” which means that “the increase in women and girl theoretically at risk may not translate to an increase in girls actually undregoing FGM/C in the United States,” according to a recent Public Health Reports study.
Miller’s claims may be unrelated to the vast majority of immigrants who enter the United States. But they appear to be on par with the comments that his boss has made about immigrants, specifically undocumented immigrants. Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, Trump has claimed that some Mexican immigrants could be rapists or drug dealers. And his immigration policy plan includes building a border wall along the southern U.S. – Mexico border and forcing Mexico to pay for it, deporting the 11.3 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country, and setting up a ban on Muslim immigrants.