Syrian Refugee Crisis Splits GOP Field, Establishment Open to Accepting More

AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson

The GOP 2016 rivals are split over whether or not the United States should accept additional refugees fleeing from Syria, but most of the candidates say the United States should not open its doors.

Candidates Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. John Kasich have suggested they would take in more refugees, while their rivals declare caution or frank opposition to the arrival of refugees.

America now accepts up to 70,000 refugees each year. According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama plans to “increase the overall number of refugees allowed into the country from around the world to 85,000 in the next 12 months. That total would increase to 100,000 by 2017.” Polls show that Obama’s policy, however, is very unpopular.

In the Nov. 10 GOP presidential candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won two rounds of applause from the audience for his extended opposition to the arrival of Syrian refugees.

I’ve been concerned that this administration has not done anything to help stop the slaughter of Christians. We didn’t help the Kurds. We said we would. But the idea we’re just going to open our doors, and we have no idea who these people are? What we do know is that only one out of five of the so-called Syrian refugees that went into Europe were actual Syrians. Many of them, we have no idea who they were. They weren’t Syrian. Are we going to open the doors so ISIS people will come on in?

“So, let’s do it where we can best help them, send them some food. But let’s ask the Saudis to step up. I’m really tired of Americans being the only ones asked (applause) to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to charity,” Huckabee said, garnering another round of applause from the audience.

He continued, “Quite frankly, my number one concern right now is taking care of the fact that Americans are taking it in the gut without jobs…if America wants to do something great, let’s get our economy growing again, stabilize the dollar, and we’ll be in a much better position to help people around the world.”

“We don’t have an obligation to just open our borders,” he said.

Like Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Chris Christie, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) all have said they don’t think America should take in any additional Syrian refugees.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump said the United States should help with the refugee crisis, but later added that if elected President of the United States, he would send them back. “If I win, they’re going back,” Trump said at a Sept. 30 rally in New Hampshire.

After seeing problems with refugees from Somali and Iraq, “I think we do have to be careful with this,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told CNN in early September. “We should have a warm and welcoming heart, but we also just can’t accept the whole world to come here.”

Dr. Ben Carson expressed concern about taking in any Syrian refugees without a stricter screening process. “I would recognize that bringing in people from the Middle East right now carries extra danger and we have to be extra cautious,” Carson said mid-September when asked about the refugees. “You know, the typical mechanisms that we use for screening people, perhaps, have to be enhanced.”

“I know we have a process, but how effective is it? How does it, you know, let people like the Tsarnaev brothers in here?” Carson questioned. “We cannot put our people at risk because we’re trying to be politically correct.”

Establishment candidates Rubio, Bush and Kasich suggested they would accept additional refugees.

Rubio said Sept. 7  that he would be open to more refugees as long as they aren’t part of any terrorist organizations. “We’ve always been a country that’s been willing to accept people who have been displaced,” Rubio told Boston Herald radio, “and I would be open to that if it can done in a way that allows us to ensure that among them are not infiltrated — people who were, you know, part of a terrorist organization that are using this crisis.”

“I think overwhelmingly, the vast and overwhelming majority of people that are seeking refuge are not terrorists, of course,” he said. “But you always are concerned about that,” he added.

On Sept. 30, Bush told a tearful questioner that the United States is “duty bound” to help more refugees. “We act on our heart, we organize it well, we take care of people,” he told a audience in New Hampshire. “My precious daughter-in-law is a [Christian] Iraqi… I have a personal connection to this,” he said.

In September, Kasich said he agrees with the Obama administration’s decision to take in 10,000 refugees from Syria over the next year. “I support that… America needs to be part of this solution.”


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