Donald Trump’s Republican rivals have rounded on his proposal to bar Muslims from entering the US.
This came despite many of the GOP presidential candidates having already taken a hard line on immigration and the refugee crisis.
Here are some of their responses to Mr Trump and general stances on immigration:
“No, that is not my policy,” the Texas senator said in response to Mr Trump’s statement. “I believe the focus should . . . [be] on radical Islamist terrorism, and we need to be directly focused on threats to the United States.” The US senator from Texas says the US has a “serious” illegal immigration problem and must secure the border, strengthen and enforce existing laws and also reform the legal immigration system.
Some of the policies he suggests to achieve this include building a 700-mile wall along the US-Mexican border, increasing aerial surveillance and halting any increases in immigration as long as “American unemployment remains unacceptably high”. He also advocates prioritising refugee status for “religious minorities, especially Christians, Jews, and others being systematically tortured and murdered by radical Islamists in Iraq and Syria today”.
The former Florida governor slammed Mr Trump on Twitter, calling him “unhinged” and saying that “his policy proposals are not serious”. Mr Bush has taken hits in some conservative circles for his more moderate stance on immigration, and he laid out six proposals this year to tackle the issue, including deporting those who had overstayed their visas, cracking down on cities with favourable policies towards migrants entering the country illegally and using technology such as drones and radar to increase surveillance on the border.
He also addressed the Syrian refugee crisis following the Paris attacks, saying he believed the US should create “safe havens” for refugees in Syria. But “there is a special, important need to make sure that Christians from Syria are being protected”, Mr Bush told CBS News.
Mr Rubio also quickly responded on Twitter to Mr Trump’s proposal, writing: “I disagree with Donald Trump’s latest proposal. His habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together.” On immigration, the Florida senator once backed a comprehensive overhaul of the system — a failed attempt to push an immigration reform bill through Congress that has become a frequent source of attacks from GOP rivals. Mr Rubio is now proposing a three-step approach that highlights toughening the border with enforcement measures, boosting merit-based legal immigration and then dealing with people in the US illegally.
Regarding the Syrian crisis, Mr Rubio had initially indicated a willingness to accept more refugees, but after the terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead he toughened his stance against people fleeing the conflict.
“It’s not that we don’t want to; it’s that we can’t because there’s no way to background check someone that’s coming from Syria,” he said in an interview with ABC News on November 15.
In response to Mr Trump’s statement, Mr Carson’s spokesperson, Doug Watts, said the retired neurosurgeon believed “everyone visiting our country should register and be monitored during their stay as is done in many countries”.
He added: “We do not and would not advocate being selective on one’s religion.”
Last week, Mr Carson also weighed in on immigration in connection to the San Bernardino mass shooting, criticising the US visa vetting process and saying it “should end this whole argument about Syrian refugees”.
The New Jersey governor knocked Mr Trump’s idea as “ridiculous” and “the kind of thing that people say when they have no experience and don’t know what they’re talking about”.
“You do not need to be banning Muslims from the country,” Mr Christie said on US conservative talk radio host Michael Medved’s show. “That’s, in my view, that’s a ridiculous position and one that won’t even be productive.”
The low-polling candidate has said he would try to combat illegal immigration by implementing a system that would track people coming into the country with visas in the same way FedEx tracks packages by using biometric technology.
Meanwhile, after initially suggesting in September he would “sit down with our allies and figure out how we can help” with the refugee crisis, Mr Christie has since taken a hard line on Syrian refugees. After the terrorist attacks in Paris, the Republican governor told conservative talk show Hugh Hewitt the US should not admit anyone escaping the Syrian civil war — not even “orphans under five”.
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