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Obama says Syrian refugees are no bigger threat to U.S. than ‘tourists’


President Obama said Thursday that Syrian refugees are no more dangerous to the U.S. than tourists, and he accused Republican presidential candidates of stoking fears about the refugees and closing the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center to score political points.

Speaking to reporters at a summit in the Philippines, Mr. Obama said the “overwhelming numbers” of Syrians who are applying for entry to the U.S. “are children, women, families — themselves victims of terrorism.” He said they are already subject to rigorous vetting by U.S. security officials.

“The idea that somehow they pose a more significant threat than all the tourists who pour into the United States every single day just doesn’t jive with reality,” Mr. Obama said. “So my expectation is after the initial spasm of rhetoric, the people will settle down, take a look at the facts, and we’ll be able to proceed.”

A majority of governors are opposing Mr. Obama’s plan to accept about 10,000 refugees, in light of the Paris terrorist attacks last week. Congress is moving to delay the president’s plan; lawmakers also are fighting his goal of closing Guantanamo and bringing detainees to prisons in the U.S.

The White House is threatening to veto a Republican-drafted bill that would suspend the refugee program until security concerns are addressed.

The president said presidential candidates are pandering to Americans’ fears about a terrorist attack in the U.S.


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