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On Trip to US, London Mayor Says Immigrants Shouldn't Have to Assimilate

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (R) speaks with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., September 15, 2016.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, while on a trip to the northern U.S. city of Chicago Thursday, argued that new immigrants in America should not have to assimilate into American culture, but the government should instead do more to help them build “cohesive communities.”

"One of the lessons from around the world is that a laissez faire or hands-off approach to social integration doesn't work. We need rules, institutions and support to enable people to integrate into cohesive communities and for the avoidance of doubt, I don't mean assimilation, I mean integration, and there's a difference,” Khan said. “People shouldn't have to drop their cultures and traditions when they arrive in our cities and countries."

Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor, did not mention Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by name, but went on to criticize positions Trump has taken regarding Muslim immigrants.

In the past, Trump called for a total ban on Muslim immigration into the U.S., but has since softened his position and said he would only ban immigration from countries with a “proven history of terrorism.”

"We play straight into the hands of those who seek to divide us, of extremists and terrorists around the world, when we imply that it's not possible to hold Western values dear and to be a Muslim," Khan said.

The London mayor said he is “a big fan” of Democrat Hillary Clinton, and called her “arguably the most experienced candidate to run to be president.”

He went on to say, "As the father of two daughters, I think the message it sends when the most powerful politician in the world is a woman is phenomenal, and hope she wins."

Khan and Trump have a history of friction. Shortly after taking office in May, the London mayor called Trump “ignorant” for his comments about Muslim immigration.

France’s recent move to ban the burkini and Britain’s decision to break away from the European Union could be traced back to anti-immigrant sentiments, much like those espoused by Trump, Khan said, and the only way to avoid these “ridiculous” situations is through social integration.

"We need to be sure that minority communities have a sense of belonging, so that they are as resilient as possible to extremism and radicalization. We should create the right conditions for new migrants to fully integrate into their new neighborhoods, providing clear advice on our values and expectations,” he said.

Khan’s first official trip to North America as London’s mayor began earlier in the day Thursday when he met with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Khan is in the U.S. along with several leaders in Britain’s tech industry to promote trade between the two countries.