The terror attacks in Paris Friday have quickly shifted the tone of the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. by bringing the immigration stances of every major candidate into the spotlight.
Days after the assaults in the French capital claimed 129 lives, both Republicans and Democrats have been digesting news that members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) were responsible for the bombings and shootings, with at least one agent reportedly entering Europe through the mass of Syrian refugees flooding the region.
GOP candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz have already earned the ire of President Obama with their Christian-only refugee statements, as reported by Time. With questions on how to ensure security in the midst of an influx of possible Muslim migrants escaping the Syrian conflict, here’s what party candidates have to say about their migrant policies post-Paris:
Interviews with the former Governor of Florida after the Paris attacks point to a slightly differing stance from his Republican cohorts. Bush says he would allow a limited number of refugees after a thorough cross-border screening—and would prefer to take in Christians fleeing persecution in Syria instead of Muslims.
“There are a lot of Christians in Syria that have no place now. They’ll be either executed or imprisoned, either by Assad or by ISIS. We should focus our efforts as it relates to the refugees for the Christians that are being slaughtered,” he said in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.
Trump has long made headlines for his hardline stance on immigration, and after the Paris attacks, those statements have only strengthened his rhetoric. At a rally in Beaumont, Texas, the Republican candidate called the Obama administration’s plan to take in thousands of Syrian refugees “insane.”
“Our president wants to take in 250,000 from Syria. We all have heart, and we all want people taken care of and all that, but some of them are going to have problems, big problems,” Trump said, as reported by the Texas Tribune.
In September, Florida Senator and Republican candidate Rubio told Boston Herald Radio that he would support a plan to bring in refugees through U.S. borders as long as tough screenings would weed out potential terrorists that came with the flow of migrants. In the wake of the Paris attacks, Rubio—who is also on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—said the U.S. should not accept any Syrian refugees on the basis of inadequate background checks.
“That’s one of the reasons why I said we won’t be able to take more refugees. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that we can’t. 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?” he said on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Rubio’s shifting stances and previous support of immigration reform have also come under fire from GOP candidates Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.
Republican candidate Carson has strongly opposed any plan to bring in Middle Eastern refugees into the U.S. “If we’re going to be bringing 200,000 people over here from that region—if I were one of the leaders of the global jihadist movement and I didn’t infiltrate that group of people with my people, that would be almost malpractice,” Carson told a group of party activists in Florida on Friday evening.
The Democratic frontrunner supported the Obama administration’s plan to bring in 10,000 refugees from Syria when it was announced in September, even advocating to hike the number to 65,000. During Saturday night’s Democratic debate, Clinton—who was Secretary of State under Obama’s presidency from 2009 to 2013—stood by her previous stance, while adding that a careful vetting process would need to be in place. “I do not want us to in any way inadvertently allow people who wish us harm to come into our country,” she said.
In Saturday’s Democratic debate, the Vermont Senator largely agreed that the U.S. should “take its full responsibility” in allowing refugees to flow in from the Middle East. However, unlike Clinton, he hedged on a figure for the number of refugees to be allowed in, saying there was no “magic number.” Sanders’ immigration policy has previously been criticized for being resistant to new migrants, saying it would hurt employment and wages.