In a surprising twist in the 2016 election, presidential aspirant Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has proposed a new plan for helping President Obama resettle Syrian refugees in the United States.
Under Rubio’s new proposal, outlined on FOX News Sunday, the United States would focus on resettling the oldest and youngest refugees inside the United States, including those orphaned and widowed in what has become an Islamist battleground.
Rubio argued these refugees could be admitted under the “commonsense” test: “the 5-year-old orphan, a 90-year-old widow, and well-known Chaldean priest, these are obviously commonsense applications, and you can clearly vet them just by commonsense.”
This new tactic may be a politically risky one for Senator Rubio, as an outright majority of all voters oppose any Syrian resettlement—and, according to Rasmussen, 65 percent of conservative voters want zero refugees admitted into the U.S. from the Middle East.
Under U.S. law, once a refugee is admitted, they are placed on a fast-track to citizenship and given instant access to federal welfare and can bring their foreign relatives into the country as well. President Obama has called for admitting 85,000 refugees from across the world this year, in addition to the regular admission of one million green card holders, 700,000 temporary migrant laborers, and half a million foreign youth for colleges.
Fox News’s Chris Wallace asked Rubio if he supported Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s legislative vision of allowing the president to admit these refugees under an administration-created screening procedure:
You say you want to block the admittance of any Syrian refugees, because you say, quite frankly, we don’t have the information, the intel, the database to vet them properly. Does that mean you will vote against the bill that was passed by the House this week overwhelmingly which would allow Syrian refugees into the country but under tightened security?
In his response, Rubio corrected Wallace, explaining that he was not calling for a refugee pause at all, and he would therefore support Ryan’s vision of increasing net immigration into the United States through Syrian resettlement:
No, my argument is that we can’t allow anyone into this country that we can’t vet. And I believe that the vast majority of refugees that are trying to come here [from Syria] are people we will not be able to vet. Does commonsense still apply? Of course, it does. A 5-year-old orphan, a 90-year-old widow, and well-known Chaldean priest, these are obviously commonsense applications, and you can clearly vet them just by commonsense. But what about someone who doesn’t fit that profile? There is no reliable database that we can rely on. There is no existing government institution in their home country that we can call up and run them against.
Rubio’s support for admitting the young and elderly would come at a cost to U.S. taxpayers. A young refugee would require extensive childcare, medical care, housing, and food support, while the older refugee in her nineties could require round the clock medical care. Moreover, if the elderly widowed refugee dies within weeks of arrival, presumably taxpayers might have to pick up the expenses related to death and burial as well.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has explained how this policy would also take Social Security and retirement benefits from Americans: “Immigration policy affects every aspect of society. Our constituents are entitled to have their Congress consider the issue carefully, since the president’s plan will take money directly out of American’s Social Security and Medicare retirement trust funds—while adding substantially to our nation’s long-term deficits.”
According to data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 91.4 percent of recent refugees from the Middle East are on food stamps and 68.3 percent of recent refugees from the Middle East are on cash welfare.
Rubio’s declaration that there should not be a pause on refugee resettlement and that, “the House bill… is an appropriate response” is significant because the bill’s critics have explained that the House measure would allow the executive branch—rather than Congress—to decide who should be let in or not. In other words, while Rubio says he would like to bring in the oldest and youngest refugees from Syria, the Ryan proposal would still leave the choice exclusively in the hands of the administration.
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