In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, GOP Hopeful Ben Carson is looking to capitalize on American’s fears by issuing more hard-line rhetoric concerning refugee resettlement. Carson is calling on Congress to withdraw funding to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States, arguing in the wake of the Paris attacks that there is no credible way to tell the difference between an Islamic State militant and an innocent citizen fleeing war. In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Carson urged congressional Republicans to “extinguish” Syrian resettlement programs, saying the United States “cannot, should not and must not accept any Syrian refugees.”
Obama earlier this year announced plans to accept as many as 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year, up from 2,000 in fiscal 2015. The State Department manages refugee resettlement with the aid of private organizations like Catholic Charities. Democratic presidential candidates have called for the U.S. to continue to let in Syrian refugees, but only after proper background checks. The nations of Europe, meanwhile, are dealing with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, dwarfing the number being debated by American politicians. Obama on Monday chided Republicans he says are effectively imposing a “religious test” on people fleeing war. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are,” the president said.
Carson’s idea of cutting off funding would likely face roadblocks in the Senate, where Republicans would not have the votes to fend off a Democratic filibuster. However, House Budget Chairman Tom Price issued a statement Monday saying the United States “must suspend our refugee program until certainty is brought to the vetting process.”
A September Pew Research Center poll found 51 percent of Americans approved and 45 percent disapproved of the Obama administration’s decision to increase the number of refugees it accepts. Nearly 7 in 10 Democrats but just a third of Republicans said they approved of the decision to accept more refugees at that time. Of course, after the recent attacks in Paris, these stats would likely shift further towards a negative bias on whether to continue accepting refugees.