Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, cited the Trump administration’s latest alternative facts in an attempt to defend the executive order barring refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” she said in an interview with MSNBC.
But the “Bowling Green massacre” isn’t real and Obama’s “ban on the Iraqi refugee program” wasn’t a ban.
Conway later said she meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists” and linked to an article about Mohanad Shareef Hammadi and Waad Ramadan Alwan, two Iraqi refugees who moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 2009. They were arrested in 2011 for attempting to send weapons and money to al-Qaeda in Iraq to be used to kill U.S. soldiers and were later sent to prison, according to the Department of Justice.
But there wasn’t a ban on refugees from Iraq under Obama either. There were increased background checks and screenings on Iraqi refugees, following the arrests of Hammadi and Alwan. The number of refugees arriving in the United States from Iraq dropped from 18,251 in 2010 to 6,339 in 2011, according to the State Department, but there was not a complete stop. That number rose to 16,369 in 2012.
Conway also repeated President Donald Trump’s earlier statement that the seven countries included in his executive order — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan Syria and Yemen — are “the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.”
Trump is referring to a 2015 law that placed limited restrictions on people who had visited those seven countries after March 2011. The law said the Visa Waiver Program, which allows people to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, would not apply to some travelers who had visited one of those countries.
Instead, they had to apply for a visa before entering at all. It was said to help combat the “threat of foreign fighters.”
“The new law does not ban travel to the United States, or admission into the United States, and the great majority of Visa Waiver Program travelers will not be affected,” Homeland Security said at the time.
Twitter users quickly responded to Conway’s latest alternative facts, making “Bowling Green massacre” a trending topic.
Conway was the first to use the phrase “alternative facts” after Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed that the crowd at President Donald Trump’s inauguration was the largest crowd in U.S. history, despite facts proving that wrong.
Conway said Spicer had presented “alternative facts.”