More than four million Syrian refugees have fled the war-torn country fearing their lives. The U.S. government recently agreed to take in more Syrians over the next two years, starting with 10,000 refugees in the coming year.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump says he'll send refugees back if elected. "I'm putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration," he said during a rally Wednesday evening in New Hampshire, ABC News reports. "If I win, they're going back."
Trump is apparently concerned that refugees fleeing Syria could actually be terrorists working for the Islamic State trying to get into the U.S. by posing as refugees. "They could be ISIS, I don't know," he said, later adding, "This could be one of the great tactical ploys of all time. A 200,000-man army, maybe. That could be possible."
As Al Jazeera points out, Trump's comments in New Hampshire Wednesday appear to run counter to what he said just three weeks ago on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor: "Something has to be done, it's an unbelievable humanitarian problem…It's living hell in Syria. There's no question about it. They're living in hell, and something has to be done."
To enter the United States, asylum seekers looking for refugee status go through a strict application process, especially since 9/11. The U.S. government has recently eased rules for Syrians because legitimate refugees were being denied protection if they had almost any interaction with fighters, the Guardian writes:
Representatives from a handful of refugee aid groups said they were still waiting for the the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release guidelines on how to apply the rule change. Until then, they said, Syrian refugees applying for residence in the US were at risk of being denied entry for an act as small as selling sandwiches to rebel fighters.
Human Rights Watch and other non-profits have said there is currently no evidence of terrorists trying to pose as refugees, and that terrorists would more likely choose an easier path if they were trying to cross borders.
The latest decision from the State Department is that America will also increase the total number of refugees the country takes in every year, from the current cap of 70,000 to 85,000 next year and 100,000 by 2017.
“Refugees go through the most robust security process of anybody who’s contemplating travel to the United States,” White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said while making the announcement. “Refugees have to be screened by the National Counter Terrorism Center, by the F.B.I. Terrorist Screening Center. They go through databases that are maintained by D.H.S., the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. There is biographical and biometric information that is collected about these individuals.”