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Biden Calls Japan and India ‘Xenophobic’ in Defending U.S. Immigration

WorldBiden Calls Japan and India ‘Xenophobic’ in Defending U.S. Immigration

For months, President Biden has been under pressure to prove he can be tough at the border. But at a campaign reception on Wednesday night, he also tried to voice his commitment to America’s long history of immigration.

He did so by taking a swipe at two of America’s partners, saying that Japan and India are struggling economically “because they’re xenophobic.” He said the two democratic countries, along with China and Russia, “don’t want immigrants.”

“Immigrants are what makes us strong,” the president told the crowd of supporters. “Not a joke. That’s not hyperbole, because we have an influx of workers who want to be here and want to contribute.”

The comments have the potential to be a diplomatic irritant for the administration, which has spent years courting the governments of both Japan and India as part of the president’s strategy to counter Chinese aggression in the region. Japan and India are two of the five allies Mr. Biden has hosted with state dinners at the White House since taking office.

John F. Kirby, the national security spokesman at the White House, told reporters Thursday that Mr. Biden was trying to make a comment about America’s immigrant “DNA,” not insult other countries. And he insisted that officials in India and Japan understand that.

“Our allies and partners know well in tangible ways how President Biden values them, their friendship, their cooperation,” Mr. Kirby said.

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