Pence Says Trump Would Stop Accepting Syrian Refugees Into U.S.

  • Republican VP nominee says program jeopardizes national safety
  • Hillary Clinton has said U.S. should accept 65,000 refugees

Mike Pence.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Donald Trump would suspend the U.S. program that offers safe haven to Syrian refugees fleeing violence and conflict in their country, his vice-presidential running mate said.

The program “puts safety and security of the American people second to the agenda of the UN or to liberals in this country,” Indiana Governor Mike Pence said in an interview with NBC News’s “Meet the Press” that aired Sunday.

The Republican said the U.S. lacks adequate screening of refugees: “our own FBI says we can’t know for certain who these people are.” Instead, Trump favors working with Arab countries to create “safe zones” for those fleeing war-torn areas, Pence said.

In 2015, President Barack Obama set a goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees during the fiscal year that started in October, a sixfold increase from the prior year. The target has been met, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a statement on Aug. 29. The U.S. will admit at least 85,000 refugees in total this year, Rice said, “vulnerable individuals and families” from countries including Iraq, Ukraine, and Burma.

Lengthy Vetting

The civil war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people over five years and displaced millions more, many of whom have sought refuge in Europe. Those admitted to the U.S. are subject to vetting that can take up to two years, according to the State Department.

Trump said during a speech in Phoenix on Aug. 31 that he would suspend immigration from Syria and Libya.

“We have no idea who they are, where they come from,” Trump said. “There’s no documentation. There’s no paperwork. It’s going to end badly folks. It’s going to end very, very badly.”

Democrat Hillary Clinton has said the U.S. should increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S. to 65,000, and focus on those most vulnerable.

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