CONTENT NOTE: The following piece contains a graphic photo.
Republican governors across the country on Monday reacted to the Paris terrorist attacks by declaring that their states would refuse Syrian refugees who are fleeing their war-torn country, even though governors lack the power to actually do so. But New Jersey governor and GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie took his declaration a step further, saying that his state would not accept orphans under the age of five.
“The fact is that we need appropriate vetting, and I don’t think orphans under five should be admitted into the United States at this point,” he said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” late Monday. “You know, they have no family here. How are we going to care for these folks?”
He added that he doesn’t “trust this administration to effectively vet the people that they’re asking us to take in” and said that “we need to put the safety and security of the American people first.”
President Obama on Monday admonished GOP politicians who have said we should turn our back on the refugees because of the attacks in Paris that killed close to 130 people. During remarks at the G20 summit, he said the Syrian refugees trying to come to the United States “are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife.”
On Sunday, the Obama administration reaffirmed its commitment to take in 10,000 refugees, who are fleeing devastation and death tolls that match the scale of the Paris attacks every day. As of September, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has already referred 18,000 cases to the United States for resettlement, more than half of which are children. According to UNICEF, 7.5 million Syrian children, inside and outside the country, are in need of humanitarian aid. Of those, 2.6 million children are no longer in school and 2 million are living as refugees in neighboring countries or on the run in search of safety.
Earlier this year, a photo of a three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a beach in a Turkish resort town went viral, inspiring widespread outrage. Headlines asked if this one picture would shift our view of refugees.
— Nadim Houry (@nadimhoury) September 2, 2015
Conservative politicians had similar responses this summer to the plight of migrant children from Central America. In July, lawmakers claimed that migrant children and undocumented immigrants are diseased and should be denied shelter.
Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) was one member of Congress who wanted to prevent unaccompanied minors from being placed in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. “There are groups that are looking to relocate the newly arrived unaccompanied minors in neighborhoods across the United States, including Hazleton,” Barletta stated in a press release. “We have no assurances that these children have been screened for diseases, or that there have been background checks conducted on them or the people who are seeking to take custody of them.”
Similarly, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) compared the surge of unaccompanied migrant children to soldiers invading France during World War II. Anti-immigrant protesters also prevented three buses carrying undocumented immigrants, including many children, from driving to a Border Patrol processing facility in Murrieta, California.