“You have the migration because Syria is such a disaster. And now I hear we want to take in 200,000 Syrians, right? And they could be, listen, they could be ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria]. I don’t know.”
— Donald Trump, campaign rally, Keene, N.H., Sept, 30, 2015
“So when I heard 10,000 and 3,000, a number, you know, from one of you — I’d say all right. But now we’re talking about 200,000. Obama is getting carried away again with this whole thing about immigration. And now we hear 200,000 and it could very well be ISIS.”
“Obama wants to — listen to this — he wants to take in 200,000. You know, 200,000. That’s like an army. Now I’m looking the other day. It’s all men. Like, where are the women? They’re very strong men. Why aren’t they back there fighting for their country?”
— Trump, campaign event in Franklin, Tenn., Oct. 3
“Now I hear we want to take in 200,000. We don’t know where they’re coming from. We don’t know who they are. They could be ISIS. It could be the great Trojan Horse…. And I’m saying we’re going to take in 200,000 people that we have no idea where they come from?”
— Trump, interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Oct. 4
Like a broken record, businessman Donald J. Trump keeps repeating a statistic with little basis in fact — that the Obama administration wants to accept 200,000 refugees from Syria.
We do not know where Trump gets his numbers — his campaign rarely responds to fact check queries — but the only thing close to a 200,000 figure is an announcement by Secretary of State John Kerry that the United States was prepared to boost the number of total refugees accepted in 2016, from 70,000 to 85,000. Then, in 2017, Kerry said that 100,000 would be accepted.
That adds up to 185,000 over two years. But this would be the total number of refugees, not the number of refugees from Syria.
By law, the president every fiscal year sets the maximum number of refugees the United States can accept in a year. Over the past decade, the annual limit has been between 70,000 and 80,000, according to the Congressional Research Service. So, 100,000 in 2017 would be a big jump, assuming Obama goes through with the pledge to authorize that level.
But for Syria, Obama has only directed the United States to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. That’s an increase of six times from 2015, but it’s hardly the flood that Trump worries about. In fact, in the interview with MSNBC, Trump indicated he would be fine with just 10,000.
So his worries appear to be based on a misunderstanding.
As Emily Litella would say, “Oh, that’s different. Never mind.”
The Pinocchio Test
Trump needs to quit using the 200,000 figure for the number of Syrians the administration has signaled it would accept — and reporters need to challenge him when he repeats it. In the meantime he earns Four Pinocchios.
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