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Trump claims assimilation among American Muslims is ‘close’ to ‘non-existent’

Trump suggests the U.S. should help build safe zones in Syria for refugees. (Video: Reuters)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has escalated his controversial anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of the Orlando shooting, suggested Tuesday night that several generations of Muslim Americans have failed to “assimilate” to life in the United States.

“Assimilation has been very hard. It’s almost, I won’t say nonexistent, but it gets to be pretty close. And I’m talking about second and third generation — for some reason there’s no real assimilation,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Trump’s controversial call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, which he says will prevent domestic terrorism, has become one of the key proposals of his campaign. He broadened that ban in a foreign policy address delivered Monday in New Hampshire, saying it would encompass immigration from "from areas of the world where there's a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe and our allies."

But the real estate mogul’s comments about assimilation within the American Muslim population are not borne out by data. Polling from the past decade suggests that Muslim Americans identify strongly with the United States and are, by traditional measures, are "roughly as religious as U.S. Christians."

Trump has also accused American Muslims of concealing radicalization within their own communities and has warned that more domestic terror attacks are imminent as a result.

“The Muslims have to work with us,” Trump said in his speech Monday “They know what’s going on. They know that [Orlando gunman Omar Mateen] was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death and destruction.”

Muslims make up about 1 percent of the total population in the United States, according to a Pew Research estimate published earlier this year. There were about 3.3 millions Muslims in the United States as of 2015.