In an interview Saturday, billionaire Donald Trump said he believes taking in Syrian refugees could result in an ISIS "military coup" in the U.S.
"This could be one of the great military coups of all time," the Republican front-runner told Fox News' Eric Bolling Saturday. "If they send them into your country – young, strong people – and they turn out to be ISIS."
The presidential hopeful said he heard from somewhere – but did not specify a source – that around 200,000 Syrian refugees were potentially to be allowed into the U.S.
"This could be like a Trojan horse," he said. "200,000 people coming into the United States and they come in here and we're totally unprepared."
Trump went on to describe his reaction to this number to Bolling: "Then I said, 'Look, Obama wants to bring 200,000 people here,' and I said, 'If I win the election, they are going back.'"
Last month, President Barack Obama announced his administration will increase the number of Syrian refugees taken in annually by the U.S. to 10,000. Many activists publicly said this was nowhere near enough and demanded the number be increased to 100,000. It is unclear where Trump's data is from. His campaign did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
Currently, the U.S. accepts a total of 75,000 refugees from countries all over the world. As the severity of the Syrian refugee crisis came to light last month due to upsetting images of a toddler who drowned while trying to flee his country, Secretary of State John Kerry told senators that the administration would seek an "additional increase beyond" the world cap, potentially accepting up to 100,000 refugees total.
The argument that letting in Syrian refugees could potentially expose the US to terrorism is one that has been used by numerous politicians who oppose an increase in the number of accepted Syrian refugees. In Sepetember, Rep. Peter King, chairman of a Homeland Security subcommittee on terrorism and intelligence also expressed that concern, citing the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon by a pair of radicalized brothers who came to the U.S. from the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan.
In response, refugee advocates called this fear "erroneous" and unfounded.
Refugees inside the U.S. are "the most 'well vetted' immigrants in the world," Naomi Steinberg, director of Refugee Council USA, told BuzzFeed News in September. It usually takes a refugee two or three years to arrive stateside due to the high level of security, she pointed out.
Furthermore, Steinberg added, it is important to remember these refugees are fleeing terrorism, they are frequently victims of terrorism themselves.
Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Ema O'Connor at email@example.com.
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