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President Trump’s nominee to lead the United Nations migration agency has been knocked out of the race, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Ken Isaacs came in third, behind Antonio Vitorino of Portugal and Laura Thompson of Costa Rica, in a vote by delegates in Geneva.

The loss breaks a decades-long streak of Americans leading the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM). 


Isaacs had come under fire for a number of anti-Muslim comments he has made in the past.

A CNN report in March highlighted a number of anti-Muslim comments Isaacs made from 2015-2017.

One comment included Isaacs pushing back on a Catholic bishop on a CNN report following a terrorist attack in the U.K. The bishop said that terrorism is not “what the Muslim faith asks people to do.”

Isaacs responded to the report with a comment saying, “CNN, Bishop if you read the Quran you will know ‘this’ is exactly what the Muslim faith instructs the faithful to do.”

CNN also found that Issacs retweeted other users’ disparaging comments about the Muslim Brotherhood and New York state policies recognizing Muslim holidays multiple times in 2015, 2016 and 2017. 

Isaacs has apologized for his past social media attacks on Islam and Muslims.

He said last month that his tweets criticizing the religion as violent were not intended to “hurt anyone’s feelings” but insisted that many posts were taken out of context.

Isaacs, the vice president of Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, was nominated by Trump to become the director general of the IOM.

The Trump administration stood by their nominee after the posts resurfaced.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told The Washington Post in February that the administration believed Isaacs would still serve with “dignity and respect” as head of the IOM.

“Mr. Isaacs has apologized for the comments he posted on his private social media account. We believe that was proper for him to do so,” Nauert said.

“Mr. Isaacs is committed to helping refugees and has a long history of assisting those who are suffering. We believe that if chosen to lead IOM, he would treat people fairly and with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

The U.S. has been voted to lead the IOM since 1951, according to the AP.

“The American is out,” Senegalese diplomat Youssoupha Ndiaye said after voting.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said the race was “very competitive” and State looks forward to working with the winner.  

“This was a very competitive election with three highly qualified candidates. We congratulate the winner and look forward to working with him/her. IOM is an important partner for the United States around the globe, and we are committed to working with IOM to address root causes of migration and to promote safe and legal migration.”

–Updated at 11:05 a.m.

Tags Donald Trump Trump administration Trump nominee UN United Nations migration agency

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