Immigration

Marco Rubio Is All Over The Place On Syrian Refugees

CREDIT: AP Photo/John Raoux

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R- Fla., speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. As Rubio campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, he’s pledging to bring generational change to Washington. Yet Rubio’s policy toward Cuba looks like a step into the past. As president, he says, he’d reinstate a half-century-old diplomatic freeze that failed to unseat the communist government on the island where his parents were born. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio now thinks that Syrian women and children fleeing violence and civil war should be granted access into the United States — pivoting away from a previous stance he took to refuse them refuge in the country.

During an appearance on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Rubio said that it was “common sense” to allow young children, old women, and religious leaders into the United States.

“My argument is that we can’t allow anyone into this country that we can’t vet,” Rubio said. “And I believe that the vast majority of refugees that are trying to come here are people we will not be able to vet. Does common sense still apply? Of course it does. A 5-year-old orphan, a 90-year-old widow, a well-known Chaldean priest—these are obviously common-sense applications, and you can clearly vet them just by common sense.”

“But what about someone who doesn’t fit that profile?” Rubio continued, noting that he supported a recent House-approved bill that would require top government officials to certify that each refugee coming from Iraq and Syria weren’t security threats. “There is no reliable database we can rely on, there is no existing government institution in their home country that we can call up and run them against. We cannot vet most of these people.”

Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants and who made his presidential announcement at the first stop for Cuban exiles arriving in Miami, has been all over the map when it comes to figuring out what he would do with Syrian refugees.

In September, Rubio said he was “open” to the idea of accepting Syrian refugees, touting America’s history of accepting displaced people from around the world. But he also noted that there has to be a way to ensure that terrorists aren’t using the crisis to infiltrate the country. Then just days after the deadly attacks in Paris, France, Rubio seemed to walk back that position, saying that it’s impossible to do background checks on Syrian refugees.

In reality, Syrian refugees are “subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States, according to the White House. As the Center for American Progress pointed out in a recent report, the screening process for refugee admission into the United States involves at least 20 steps, including biometric and biographic examinations and extensive interviews. One former Bosnian refugee told ThinkProgress her process took at least four years before she and her family could even step foot into the country. That process is even more grueling for Syrian refugees.

What’s more, of the 2,174 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States since September 2001, none have been arrested or deported on terrorism-related grounds.