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Huckabee: U.S. Can't Take In Syrian Refugees Just Because They Want "Free Benefits"

"But, just to say if somebody is not living a very fancy life they want to come here because we've given them free benefits. No, we can't do that."

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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee raised the possibility that Syrian refugees seeking refuge in the United States and Europe were just seeking "free benefits," unlike refugees fleeing the war in Vietnam who sought "freedom."

"Well, the tragedy is when Germany began to process the refugees it turns out that only one in five were actually Syrian," Huckabee told radio host Jan Mickelson on Wednesday. "Four out of five, eighty percent were not even Syrian refugees. So this notion that we're saving people from a Syrian bloodbath, look I think we all feel some sympathy there but America has also a responsibility to carefully vet that it just opens the gate for."

The Obama administration announced in early September that it hopes to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. Refugees seeking entry into the United States undergo multiple high-level security checks and an in-person interview with a representative from the Department of Homeland security.

Huckabee has previously said Syrian refugees could be "some of the most violent and vicious people on Earth," and European nations are forgetting the "lessons of 9/11" by allowing "alleged-Syrian refugees" into their countries.

In the radio interview on Wednesday, Huckabee said we need to work with the Saudis and Jordanians to build a "processing center" for refugees. According to the United Nations, more than four million refugees from the Syrian crisis have fled to neighboring countries. Massive refugees camps exist in those countries, which carry most of the burden of people displaced by the Syrian civil war.

"Well, then we need to sit down whether it's with the Saudis, the Jordanians, or a country very very close to where the refugees are and say we're gonna create a processing center and the refugees will go there," Huckabee said when asked about alleged difficulties in processing refugees. "We'll help feed them. We'll help process them but we're not gonna just let them get on a plane and send them to the United States and be in a culture that they're totally unprepared for and perhaps we're unprepared for why they are coming. It doesn't make any sense."

Mickelson then said to the former Arkansas governor the refugees know where the best benefits are.

"That's why the system can succumb to the pressure of people," Huckabee said on refugees wanting benefits. "If they are desperate, then we need to say look, we'll make sure that you're not gonna starve. We're gonna make sure that you've got shelter, but we're gonna put that camp in -- and it's not gonna be in the United States and you're not gonna be shipped to France or England."

Huckabee said the Saudis would say no, but the U.S. need to stand up to them and say, "we're tired of being the one country that's expected to do all the dirty work and to take all the problems"

Huckabee said the U.S. was "willing to take in people who are desperate" citing people fleeing the Vietnam War.

"Guess what, those folks worked their tales off," he said of refugees from Vietnam. "They learned English. Their kids ended up becoming the valedictorians half the time, but that was because they wanted to come to America. They wanted freedom and they decided that they wanted to be part of this country and they have certainly succeeded owning businesses and prospering. But, just to say if somebody is not living a very fancy life they want to come here because we've given them free benefits. No, we can't do that. We're broke. I don't know how to break this to people in Washington, but we're broke. We owe $19 trillion right now."

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com.

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