It's off to the races. Republican elected officials across the country spent the better part of Monday out-demagoguing each other on the issue of Syrian refugees in the face of Friday's terror attack in Paris and President Obama's defiant call to reject the “dark impulse” to turn our backs on the thousands of refugees fleeing war. But with hours still left to go, it's safe to say that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wins the distinction of most callous GOP response of the day.
In an apparent reversal of his position from two months ago, Christie now says that the United States is not capable of accepting any Syrian refugees for fear of importing terrorism, not even "three year old orphans."
Christie's callous dismissal of the plight of war orphans stands in stark contrast to his own sentiments from weeks ago. "We saw the image of that 4-year-old little boy drowned in Syria," Christie said back in September, referring to the harrowing image of a young child laying motionless on a beach shore. "We can’t have those kinds of things.”
But in an interview with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt today, Christie gave these revised comments:
Earlier in the day, President Obama chided Republicans who rushed to conflate Syrian refugees with Friday's terror attack or ISIL.
“When I hear folks say maybe we should accept the Christians but not the Muslims. When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who is fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful, that’s not American, that’s not who we are” Obama said.
Christie joins a growing list of Republican governors who have declared their states Syrian refugee free zones:
New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is the only Democrat to have called for a halt of the Syrian refugee resettlement program so far.
Rand Paul announced he planned to introduce legislation barring all visas, including student and travel visas, from 30 so-called "high-risk nations."
“I’m getting calls nonstop from my state saying we don’t think this a good idea to bring in refugees when we’re not certain they aren’t coming here to attack us,” Paul said explaining the move.
The United States has only extended a welcoming hand to an additional 10,000 refugees from the war torn nation over the next two years, but every Republican presidential candidate has either called for only allowing Christian Syrians to enter the country or halting resettlement all together. According to World Vision, 12 million refugees have fled Syria since the war began in 2011 and the organization estimates half of those fleeing refugees are children.