Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Monday. (Photo: Wade Payne/AP)
Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz joined the chorus of Republican governors vowing to defy the Obama administration’s plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States in the wake of last Friday’s deadly terror attacks in Paris.
“We have no documentation on these people,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Knoxville, Tenn., Monday night. “And I said — you probably saw a couple weeks ago — I’m looking at this migration, it’s a terrible thing — I have a tremendous heart, I want to take care of people — you look at this migration, I said to my wife the other day: ‘You know, they seem like so many men.’”
President Obama’s plan includes a 12- to 18-month security screening process for refugees seeking to enter the United States. The 10,000 Syrians the administration has pledged to accept represent less than 1 percent of the more than 4 million people who have fled the country — and most are women and children.
Earlier Monday, Cruz announced he plans to introduce legislation banning Muslim Syrian refugees from entering the United States.
“What Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are proposing is that we bring to this country tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees,” Cruz told CNN. “I have to say particularly in light of what happened in Paris, that’s nothing short of lunacy.”
The governors of at least 27 states — all but one of them Republican — say they will refuse to accept any refugees from Syria following the revelation that one of the terrorists involved in Friday’s attacks may have entered Europe as part of a wave of migrants from the war-torn region.
Trump offered an alternative solution for the refugees: build a “safe zone” for them — in their home country.
“In Syria, take a big swatch of land, which believe me, you get for the right price, OK? You take a big swatch and you don’t destroy all of Europe,” the real estate mogul said. “What I’d like is build a safe zone, it’s here, build a big beautiful safe zone and you have whatever it is so people can live, and they’ll be happier.”
That way, Trump explained, they won’t have to learn new languages or adapt to a new climate.
“They’re gonna learn all these different languages. It’s ridiculous,” he continued. “The weather — a friend of mine lives in Minnesota. And he calls me, he says, ‘Can you imagine? It’s 130 degrees in Syria, and now they want to send some up to Minnesota, where it’s 30 degrees.’ Well, these people are gonna be very, very unhappy.”
Ben Carson, currently in second place behind Trump in the race for the GOP nomination, called on Congress to “extinguish” funding for Syrian resettlement programs.
“The United States cannot, should not and must not accept any Syrian refugees,” Carson wrote in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Speaking on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Ryan called for a “pause” to the administration’s refugee plan.
“Our nation has always been welcoming,” he said. “But we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.”
Other Republican hopefuls, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, say the U.S. should accept only Christian refugees.
Speaking at the G-20 summit in Turkey on Monday, Obama slammed the idea of a religious test.
“When I hear folks say that ‘Maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims,’ when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” Obama said. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders agreed.
“Now is not the time for demagoguery and fearmongering,” Sanders said at a rally in Cleveland on Monday. “What terrorism is about is trying to instill terror and fear into the hearts of people. And we will not let that happen. We will not be terrorized or live in fear.
“During these difficult times, we will not succumb to Islamophobia,” he added. “We will not turn our backs on the refugees.”