Donald Trump promises to send all Syrian refugees back
Republican presidential frontrunner changes tack, saying migrants could be extremists
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Keene, New Hampshire, on Wednesday, during which he said he would send home the US’s Syrian refugees if he became president. Photograph: Gretchen Ertl/Reuters
Businessman Donald Trump, the frontrunner to win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said he would send home the US’s Syrian refugees if he became president.
In the latest controversial remarks in his bombastic campaign, the reality TV star reversed his position on the plight of Syrian migrants from a few weeks ago when he said the US should accept migrants from Europe because it was “an unbelievable humanitarian problem”.
“I’m putting the people 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, they’re going back,” Mr Trump said in a campaign rally in New Hampshire, the second state to pick presidential candidates.
The businessman raised concerns at the rally in a school in the town of Keene on Wednesday night when he said the Syrian refugees the US will take in could be members of the violent extremist group Islamic State.
The Obama administration has already permitted 1,500 Syrians to re-settle, a fraction of the estimated four million who have fled the country during a four-year civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people.
Secretary of State John Kerry said, earlier this month, that the US would increase the number of refugees that it takes in by 15,000 over each of the next two years, bringing the annual total to 100,000 in 2017.
Mr Trump has put anti-immigration policies high on his election manifesto, saying that he would deport the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US and build a wall along the border with Mexico.
He has promised to make Mexico pay for the wall, accusing their government of sending criminals, rapists and drug-dealers to the US.
Leading by seven points on his nearest rival, the property tycoon, with 23 per cent support, polls ahead of two other non-politicians: retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former corporate executive Carly Fiorina, and Florida senator Marco Rubio.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son of one former president and the brother of another, described Mr Trump’s comments on the Syrian refugees as “a horrible thing”.
“The idea that you would send back refugees. When in American history has that ever happened?” said Mr Bush, who is running fifth in the polls.
“We have to stand for certain values. Mr Trump either doesn’t have a sense of history about American values or doesn’t care about them – either way, it’s wrong.”