Top Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, in response to the deadly concerted Paris attacks on Friday, have suggested that a religious test determine future refugee immigration policy. More specifically, the presidential hopefuls say that only Christians among the few thousand the U. S. plans to shelter should be allowed to enter the United States.
Jeb Bush doubled down on his call for screening Syrian refugees to allow only Christians into the United States, telling “CBS This Morning” on Nov. 16, “There should be really thorough screening [of refugees coming to the U.S.] and we should focus on creating safe havens for refugees in Syria rather than bringing them all the way across to the United States,” he said. “But I do think there is a special important need to make sure that Christians from Syria are being protected because they are being slaughtered in the country and but for us who? Who would take care of the number of Christians that right now are completely displaced?”
His words echoed statements he made on Sundays news shows. On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” he’d stated, “I do think we have a responsibility to help with refugees after proper screening. And I think our focus ought to be on the Christians who have no place in Syria anymore. They’re being beheaded, they’re being executed by both sides. And I think we have a responsibility to help.”
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” November 15 former Florida governor Jeb Bush told host Jake Tapper that U. S. immigration policy regarding the multitude of Syrian refugees clamoring for asylum and/or protection from the various warring factions in that Middle Eastern nation should focus on two things: 1) Concentrate on creating safe havens or zones in the region and 2) focus on primarily screening for Christian Syrians to be allowed immigration status. “As it relates to the refugees, I think we need to do thorough screening,” Bush said Sunday. “And take a limited number. But ultimately, the best way to deal with the refugee crisis is to create safe zones inside of Syria so that people don’t risk their lives, and you don’t have what will be a national security challenge for both our country and for Europe of screening.”
When Tapper followed up by asking just how the immigrants could be screened for Christians, Bush said, “Well, we do that all the time. We do that. It takes almost a year for a refugee to be processed into the United States. I think we need to be obviously very, very cautious.”
But the former Florida governor is not alone when it comes to a religious “test,” so to speak, when allowing Syrian refugees into the US. Fellow 2016 presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also thinks Christians should get preferential treatment when as immigrants.
While stumping in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Monday, Cruz said, according to The New Yorker, that only Christian refugees should be allowed entrance into the country. His reasoning? “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”
Neither Republican candidate has elaborated on a workable process for the actual screening for Christians, how it would work, or how to foolproof it against refugees simply lying about their religious affiliation just to get out of the war-torn nation. According to a July report from the United Nations, there were over 4 million Syrian refugees in neighboring nations. It was estimated that another 7 million Syrians were displaced within their own nation.
Thus far, only about 2,200 Syrian refugees have been allowed into the US since 2011, according to CNN. The average processing time for each immigrant was from 18 to 24 months. President Obama has ordered that the number be increased to 10,000 by fiscal year’s end (October 2016). That number is scheduled to increase to 100,000 in fiscal year 2017. However, after the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, considerable backlash to allowing refugees in has mounted and faces fierce public and political opposition.