By Tanya Basu @mstanyabasu
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that if elected to the White House, he will send Syrian refugees back to their homeland.
At a one-hour rally in Keene, New Hampshire, Trump pulled no punches. “I’m putting the people here on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration that if I win, if I win, they’re going back,” Trump said to cheers. “They’re going back, I’m telling you, they’re going back.”
This is the latest in a series of conflicting statements Trump has made regarding his position on the Syrian refugee crisis. On September 9, Trump criticized American leadership for not accepting more Syrian refugees. The next day, following a Capitol Hill rally criticizing the Iran nuclear agreement, he told CNN the American response should be limited.
“I think we should help, but I think we should be very careful because frankly, we have very big problems.” he said. “We cannot help everybody through the world.”
Trump’s change of heart brings him more into line with the Republican voter base. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Republican voters oppose taking in more refugees by a majority of over 2 to 1 (67% to 30%). By contrast, Democratic voters approve of it by an similarly large margin (69% to 29%).
William A. Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, noted that “Republicans are more concerned than Democrats about the possibility that violent jihadists could enter among legitimate refugees.” That concern has also been voiced in Europe, where the overwhelming majority of refugees are heading.