There have been some incredibly cringeworthy moments from this year's GOP debates, but Mike Huckabee's response to the Syrian refugee crisis may be one of the worst ones yet. During Tuesday night's undercard debate, the former Arkansas governor was asked about the current Syrian refugee crisis and whether American should open doors to people seeking a new life. He was also encouraged to share how many refugees the United States should accept. Instead, he went on a tone-deaf and somewhat alarming rant.
Instead of discussing the four million Syrians seeking refuge currently, Huckabee took an opportunity to first address the Obama administration's failure to help stop "the slaughter of Christians." And then he launched into his main point: that America shouldn't have to accept refugees.
Much of Huckabee's argument is based on his belief that only "one in five of these so-called 'Syrian refugees' coming into Europe are actually Syrian." Under this logic, Huckabee argues that he doesn't understand why America would say that "ISIS people can come on in and we'll give them a place to stay and a nice sandwich and medical benefits."
Huckabee appears to have received his facts from the British newspaper The Daily Mail, which first reported the one in five statistic. But according to The Guardian, the number is not only misleading, but grossly incorrect. According to numbers provided by the UNHCR, 52 percent of the refugees coming into Europe are actually from Syria — and three-quarters of them are women and children. And as The Guardian points out, Syria is not the only country putting forth refugees. So the implication that any refugee who isn't Syrian is an ISIS terrorist is incorrect.
This is not even remotely the first time that Huckabee has delivered some jaw-dropping comments about the Syrian refugee crisis. During an interview in September, Huckabee worried that taking in Syrian refugees could mean taking in "some of the most violent and vicious people on Earth." He was, once again, referring to the possibility of ISIS terrorists slipping in among the women and children — though it's possible Huckabee thinks the women and children are the terrorists.
In the same interview, Huckabee advocated for a vetting process for incoming refugees, so that U.S. authorities can be sure who is coming into the country. But the thing is that this vetting process already exists. Any individual applying to come into the United States undergoes an exhaustive background check, which includes medical tests, biometric verification, extensive biographical screening, and interviews. Multiple departments are involved in the screening process, which often takes up to two years. Our extensive vetting process is the reason why the United States has accepted less than 2,000 refugees since 2011.
Aside from being factually incorrect, Huckabee's comment shows a staggering lack of compassion from a candidate who boasts about his Christian faith and background as a pastor. But perhaps more concerning than Huckabee's comments is the fact that no one on stage corrected him.