Carson: Obama’s Plan to Bring Syrian Refugees to US is Just a ‘Band-Aid’ Solution

Sam Dorman | November 30, 2015 | 5:32pm EST
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Dr. Ben Carson. (AP photo)

( -- After visiting Syrian refugees in Jordan, presidential candidate Ben Carson said Sunday that President Obama’s plan to bring them into the United States was just a “band aid” solution, and suggested that the U.S. should do more to help Jordan with its on-going humanitarian efforts instead.

“If we bring 10,000 or 25,000 of them to the United States, that's not solving a problem,” Carson told Face the Nation host John Dickerson. “That's a little band-aid that makes a few people say, ‘Hey, we're good guys.’ That's not what we want to do.”

Carson told Dickerson that Syrian refugees told him that their primary interest was to go back to Syria rather than coming to the United States.

“Dr. Carson, I want to ask you. You visited a Syrian refugee camp. What did you learn there?” Dickerson asked.

“Well, first of all,” Carson responded, “I was very impressed by the outpouring of humanitarian effort on behalf of the Jordanians. This has been going on for many decades. But they have really reached out to the Syrians in a very big way.

“And I had an opportunity to talk with many of the Syrians. And that was very eye-opening, asking them, what is their desire, what is their main desire? And their main desire is to be repatriated in their homeland.”

Carson also reported that the refugees told him the U.S. could provide assistance by supporting existing relief efforts in Jordan.

“And I said, what kinds of things could a nation like United States do to help? And there was a pretty uniform answer on that,” Carson said.

“And that was, they can support the efforts of the Jordanians. The Jordanians have done a yeoman's job in terms of putting up these camps, but the reason that the camps are not full is because they are not supported by the international community.

“It seems like everybody in the international community is spending more time saying, how can we bring refugees here, rather than how can we support a facility that is already in place that the refugees are finding perfectly fine when it's adequately funded?” Carson explained.

Dickerson then asked him, “So, your assessment visiting there is that Jordan could take all the refugees; it's just a matter of getting more financial resources?”

“I think Jordan could take a lot more of the refugees than they're taking right now,” Carson replied. “I don't see any reason, quite frankly, that some of the other nations in the area shouldn't also be asked to do it, so that you don't have to go through a big cultural change with them.

“And in terms of money, you know, when I looked at the refugee camps in Jordan, there's about a $3 billion shortfall annually. That's how much money we spent last year on Halloween candy. Is it something that can be done?”

 “So, make the link between Halloween and the refugees for me. Are you talking about a national fundraising drive or…?” Dickerson asked.

“I talked about in terms of the amount of money that it would take to fund the shortfall,” Carson explained.

“Our country has done a great job in terms of providing support. There's no question about that. But I believe that the entire international community could easily make up that $3 billion shortfall. My point in comparing it to Halloween candy is to say that this is not a big deal.”

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