New study supports Carson’s claim that Syrian refugees want to go home

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Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s views on foreign policy have drawn stinging criticism from the left but a recently released polling analysis appears to vindicate his assertion that Syrian refugees would prefer not to resettle in North America.

Reflecting on a brief weekend jaunt to refugee camps in Jordan, Carson said in multiple television interviews that every Syrian he spoke with preferred to resettle in Syria, if possible. He also said that refugees told him they were satisfied with their present camps, provided the facilities remain properly funded. Separately, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon pointed out that most Syrian refugees – about 1.3 million – in Jordan were settled in communities while just 100,000 were in camps.

A Gallup study released Monday shows that just 6 percent of Syrians would choose North America for resettlement, with 39 percent answering that they’d prefer to move somewhere in Europe and 35 percent indicating a preference to remain in the Middle East and/or North Africa, based on data collected in January 2015.  

Carson told CNN that he spoke to multiple refugees and queried them about their “supreme desire” when it comes to resettlement. The doctor noted that one of the messages he took from the weekend visit was “how much they want to be resettled in their own country,” coupled with a “really overwhelming “ sense that America can best support the refugees by supporting the efforts already put in place by Jordan “in terms of the refugee camps.”

“We really need to be looking at the things that actually solve the problem,” Carson added on CNN. “Bringing 10,000 or 25,000 Syrian refugees to America doesn’t even begin to solve the problem.”

President Barack Obama has indicated the administration plans to sharply increase the number of Syrian refugees that will be resettled in the U.S. to as many as 10,000 from fewer than 2,000 in the fiscal year that ended in September.

Carson stressed that the U.S. can make the most positive impact on the Syrian refugee crisis by assisting Jordan with resettlement efforts already under way there.

“Recognize that in these camps they have schools, they have recreational facilities, that are really quite nice, and they’re putting in all kinds of things that make life more tolerable,” Carson said. “Would it be better to integrate them into society? Yes, and I certainly talked to some people about that, but you have to make progress as you go.”

In a video statement posted on his campaign’s Twitter feed, Carson criticized Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the favorite to land the Democratic presidential nomination, for serving up “empty rhetoric” and their handling of the Syrian civil war.

Carson on Saturday posted a statement on his personal Facebook page saying that he will be “offering what I believe are real solutions to the problems created in part by the Obama-Clinton Administration’s failed policies.” On Monday, Carson expounded on Obama’s plan to resettle 15,000 Syrian refugees in America, calling it “as small as it is wrong” in another Facebook post. “I believe we can be smart and keep our country safe and also be compassionate,” Carson wrote. “Let us commit to help care for these people. We are a generous people. The Jordanian government expects the cost to care, educate, feed, and protect the refugees is about $3 billion per year — roughly the same amount of money we spend on Halloween candy in the U.S. each year. We need not shoulder the entire cost ourselves. We should lead though.”

Contact Evan Lips at [email protected] or on Twitter at @evanmlips.

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Who would you like to see become the next president of the United States?

The first presidential primary will take place in New Hampshire on Feb. 9. (Massachusetts voters get to weigh in on “Super Tuesday,” March 1.)  For whom will you vote to be your party’s standard bearer?

Bush, Jeb (R)


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Christie, Chris (R)


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Fiorina, Carly (R)


Gilmore, Jim (R)


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Huckabee, Mike (R)


Kasich, John (R)


O’Malley, Martin (D)


Pataki, George (R)


Paul, Rand (R)


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Sanders, Bernie (D)


Santorum, Rick (R)


Trump, Donald (R)


None of the above