GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump doubled down on his controversial proposal to block Muslims from entering the U.S., claiming that even some Muslims endorse his plan.
“I have many great Muslim friends and some of them – I will not say all – have called me and said ‘Donald, thank you very much. You’re exposing an unbelievable problem, and we have to get to the bottom of it,’” Trump said at the Fox Business debate on Thursday.
Candidates on the debate stage tipped a hat to Trump for tapping into the climate of fear in the U.S. in the wake of terror attacks in California and Paris. With attention turned toward the foreigners crossing U.S. borders, candidates stopped short of saying that they too would support sweeping bans against Muslim travelers and immigrants. But for many, plans to freeze resettlement for Syrian refugees were fair game.
“We should take no Syrian refugees of any kind,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said.
“I don’t think we have a good process of being able to vet them,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich said.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, an establishment Republican struggling to regain ground in polls, stood alone in aggressively slapping back Trump and his Muslim ban, saying it was counterproductive and unrealistic.
“We don’t have to have refugees come to the country, but all Muslims? Seriously! What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world that the United States is a serious player in creating peace?” Bush said.
The underlying fears in the debate over Syrian refugees zeros in on concerns that terrorists could infiltrate the system or slip across borders.
“This could be the great Trojan Horse,” Trump said. “It could be people that are going to do great, great destruction.”
Trump’s facts at times, however, were turned upside down. In suggesting that there was something nefarious behind the massive exodus of refugees out of Syria, Trump said it was suspicious that the majority of refugees were “strong, powerful men.”
“Where are all the women? Where are the children?” Trump asked.
The answer is: Women and kids are the ones fleeing. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, they make up more than three-fourths of the refugees fleeing Syria.
The same goes for the refugees resettled in the U.S. Women and kids make up 77 percent of refugees placed in the U.S., the State Department reports. Only 2 percent of the refugee admissions were single men unattached to families.