Donald Trump warns that Syrian refugees represent 'a great Trojan horse' to the U.S.

In his calls for a shutdown on immigration from Muslim-majority countries, Donald Trump has tried to tap into voters’ fears on terrorism – and to draw a sharp contrast with Hillary Clinton, who believes the United States has a responsibility to accept more refugees from war-shattered Syria.

Trump said “tens of thousands” of Syrian refugees are pouring into the country, and he warned that they represent “a great Trojan horse” that will spawn future terrorist attacks: “Wait and see what happens in coming years. Thanks a lot, Hillary.”

Clinton has in fact called for the U.S. to admit many more Syrian refugees — 65,000 next year, up from 10,000 permitted to enter the U.S. this year by the Obama administration.

At an appearance on “Face the Nation” in September 2015, Clinton said the U.S. should “lead the world” in helping to alleviate what she called the worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II. “I think the U.S. needs to do more,” she said, adding that she would “begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in.”

On Wednesday, Clinton reiterated her position: “I am not going to slam the door on women and children,” she said.

Trump has promised to shut the door to refugees and lock it, at least right away. After first calling for a “complete and total ban” on Muslims entering the U.S., earning condemnation from Democrats and Republicans alike, he later adjusted his statements, saying he would temporarily suspend immigration from countries that have histories of spawning terrorists. No one would be admitted until they passed a tough new review, what he called “extreme, extreme vetting.” He’s said that should include some kind of ideological test to prove they share “American values.”

Experts have said that such restrictions are probably legal — the president has sweeping powers to decide who can and who can’t enter the U.S. — but question whether they would be effective, or would cause the gears of the refugee process to grind entirely to a halt.

Trump hasn’t specified what that test would look like, or how it would be different from the tough process, lasting up to two years, faced by Syrian refugees now. 

joseph.tanfani@latimes.com

Twitter: @jtanfani

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