Trump: We have to accept Syrian refugees because they're living in hell back home

I tweeted something over the weekend about how, if Obama tries to follow Merkel’s lead by throwing open America’s doors to Syrian refugees, the backlash would be such that Trump would instantly be a legit threat to win the White House. To which Drew McCoy, one of Ace’s co-bloggers, replied: Why? Haven’t you heard that Trump wants to take Syrian refugees too? And he was right — somehow I had missed this story from Friday in which Trump opened the door to the possibility.

Either this guy wildly misunderstands his base or I do. Two of the core fears animating support for his hardline immigration policy are low-skilled immigrant workers competing with Americans for jobs and poor immigrant families voting Democratic for at least the first generation or two after securing citizenship to maximize their welfare opportunities. Now here’s Trump defying both of those concerns to call for more immigrants, and not just from any country but from a Muslim nation poisoned by war and sectarian venom. And the weird thing is, he’s obviously alert to the assimilation problems in Europe: He mentions at the end of the clip, vaguely but clearly enough, that “Europe is becoming a much different place” and that he saw it firsthand the last time he was in Paris. If you had asked me to guess what his policy on the migrant crisis would be, I would have guessed that he’d call for generous humanitarian aid coupled with intense pressure, economically and diplomatically, on Jordan, Egypt, and the Gulf states to resettle most of Syria’s refugees there. Nope. He allows that he “hates the concept” of absorbing refugees from an illiberal culture, but as a purely humanitarian matter, he feels we have no choice. I assume this position will be finessed later by him stressing that he thinks the number should be small, a tiny fraction of what Germany’s taking, and that preference should be given if possible to Syrian Christians. (Legal eagles are invited to correct me but the courts wouldn’t stand for U.S. immigration bureaus favoring refugees from one religion over another, yes?) Watch the second clip below, though, to see how UKIP’s Nigel Farage, a pol to whom Trump’s sometimes compared, handled the matter earlier today in the European Parliament. He’s nominally open to accepting refugees too but he questions how many of the thousands coming to Germany are true refugees and how many are simply immigrants looking for better pay and welfare benefits. Quote: “We must be mad to take this risk with the cohesion of our societies.” He out-Trumped Trump!

Exit question: At one point, Trump tells O’Reilly that this refugee crisis was begun by Obama’s fateful decision not to enforce his “red line” against Assad. How so? Obama’s plan to hit Assad for violating the red line against chemical weapons was never going to be more than some symbolic strikes on Syrian military outfits and weapons depots. It would have bloodied Assad’s nose, not sought to remove him from power. For good reason: Absent a U.S. or international military occupation, which no one’s volunteering for, ISIS and Al Qaeda likely would have filled the resulting power vacuum. What is it that President Trump would have done differently? If he’s suggesting an American invasion of Syria, then he’s way beyond the level of do-gooding hawkishness achieved even by “bomb ’em all” aficionados like McCain and Lindsey Graham. I’m almost afraid to find out what he thinks we should be doing in Ukraine to stop Putin.

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David Strom 8:31 AM on October 05, 2022