Yesterday in New Hampshire, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump announced that if he wins the presidency, Syrian refugees are "going back." "They're going back," he added. "I'm telling you, they're going back." Here's a video clip:
Trump's views on accepting Syrian refugees has evolved the past month. On Sept. 8, he told Bill O'Reilly that "I hate the concept of it, but on a humanitarian basis, with what's happening, you have to." The next day, when asked about it by CNN, he sounded a more cautious note, saying "I think we should help, but I think we should be very careful because frankly, we have very big problems. We're not gonna have a country if we don't start getting smart." On Sept. 15, he told Morning Joe that "the answer is possibly yes," and then on Sept. 22, Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski declared that a Trump White House would "take in zero" refugees.
Trump's broader comments conflate the Syrians traveling by boat to Europe with the ones filing applications to enter the United States as refugees, even though those two populations are significantly different:
And now I hear we want to take in 200,000 Syrians. And they could be—listen—they could be ISIS, I don't know! Did you ever see a migration like that? They're all men! And they're all strong-looking guys! Did you see it? They're walking—and there's so many men, there aren't that many women. And I'm saying to myself, "Why aren't they fighting to save Syria? Why are they migrating all over Europe?" I'm serious!
The Syrians that the United States has been accepting as refugees—after an average screening time of 18 to 24 months—are not "all men" or "all strong-looking guys," regardless of whatever images are coming out of Europe (which is a different continent, one that is more accessible from North Africa and the Middle East by boat). From the beginnings of the Syrian civil war to 2015 and through last month, the demographic population of refugees accepted by the U.S. has consistently been about 53 percent male, and about 30 percent between the ages of 20 and 40. Given America's screening process and heightened security concerns, there is no reason to expect those demographics to change even with a sharp increase in refugees; indeed, the demographics have not changed over the past five years, even as the numbers have recently begun to spike.
As for why the strong-looking guys among the refugee population aren't "fighting to save Syria," that may be due to the fact that Syria is a murderous dictatorship riven by a brutally sectarian civil war that has killed upwards of 300,000 and displaced 4 million people, with very little long-term prospects aside from abject misery, poverty, and death. A fight whose main participants include Bashar al-Assad, ISIL, Hezbollah, the Islamic Front and suchlike is not one whose virtuous side is easy to pick out. Young strong men are always the first conscripts of wars they might not be inclined to fight, as Donald Trump surely remembers from his multiple Vietnam deferments.
To sum up, President Trump's FDR-topping expulsion docket includes the following:
* 11 million illegal immigrants.
* 4 million American-citizen children of illegal immigrants.
* However many legal Syrian refugees we have by then; maybe in the low tens of thousands (currently the number stands at a little over 1,800, 42 percent of whom are under age 14).