WASHINGTON – U.S. Republican presidential hopefuls said Sunday that in the wake of the Paris attacks America must not take in Syrian refugees because they might include Islamic State militants.
“It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that we can’t,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said on ABC.
“Because there’s no way to background check someone that’s coming from Syria. Who do you call and do a background check on them?” Rubio asked.
Using an alternative acronym for Islamic State, he added, “You can have 1,000 people come in, and 999 of them are just poor people fleeing oppression and violence, but one of them is an ISIS fighter.”
Another prominent Republican, Devin Nunes, who is not running for president, also said point blank that no Syrian refugees should be allowed into America.
“There’s no possible way to screen them. It should be stopped immediately,” said Nunes, who is head of the House Intelligence Committee.
Another presidential hopeful, Jeb Bush, said on CNN that “we should focus our efforts as it relates to refugees for the Christians that are being slaughtered.”
Many other Republicans have made comments to this effect since the Friday night attacks in Paris that left at least 129 dead.
President Barack Obama announced in September that the United States would take in 10,000 Syrian refugees by September 2016.
The decision has the support of Democrats like the party’s presidential front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who insists the arrivals must be screened.
The White House reiterated Sunday that the vetting process is very strict. And in fact Syrian refugees are arriving in the United States in very small numbers.
“We cannot close our doors to these people,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser said.
“Bringing people into this country from that area of the world I think is a huge mistake,” said Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, who is second in the polls after billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump.
“Because why wouldn’t they infiltrate them with people who are ideologically opposed to us?” Carson added on Fox News Sunday.
Ultra-conservative presidential hopeful Ted Cruz said Saturday that 77 percent of the refugees arriving in Europe were young men and he found this proportion puzzling. He did not cite the source of the number.
Rubio, Bush and fellow hopeful Sen. Lindsey Graham also called on France Sunday to invoke Article V of NATO’s founding treaty, which states that an attack on one member of the alliance is to be construed as an attack on all members.
“I hope the French will invoke Article 5, they should. The world should be at war with ISIL,” Graham said CNN.