Donald Trump’s campaign on Tuesday responded to outrage over a tweet his son sent out comparing Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles.
In a Monday tweet, Donald Trump Jr. railed against the US immigration system, contending it had been stunted by political correctness. He compared supposed terrorists hidden among Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles in a candy bowl.
After critics slammed the tweet for mischaracterizing the refugee vetting process, Senior Communications Advisor Jason Miller brushed off criticism, called Trump Jr. “a tremendous asset to the campaign.”
“America has become less safe under Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and Clinton’s planned 550% increase in Syrian refugees is a dangerous proposal that will put American lives at risk,” Miller said.
He added: “Speaking the truth might upset those who would rather be politically correct than safe, but the American people want a change, and only Donald Trump will do what’s needed to protect us.”
Other Trump campaign higher-ups also on Tuesday defended Donald Trump Jr.’s comments.
Speaking with MSNBC, Trump’s running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence cited FBI Director James Comey’s claim that it’s not always easy to run thorough background checks on every refugee, though Comey has noted that federal agencies have gotten far better at vetting refugees.
“It is remarkable to me to see the level of outrage about a metaphor used by Don Jr. when Hillary Clinton is calling for a 550 per cent increase in the Syrian refugee program,” Pence said. “All the while our FBI and public safety officials tell us we can’t know for sure who those people are coming into this country.”
Many immigration advocates have argued that the US’ refugee acceptance program is one of the most difficult ways for a terrorist to enter the US. Refugees from areas with terrorist activity are required to undergo a lengthy vetting process that includes a background check and interviews.
“It is extremely unlikely that someone who is a terrorist will be sent through the refugee-resettlement program,” Greg Chen, the director of advocacy at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told Business Insider last year.
“It takes a great deal of time, and it wouldn’t make sense for someone who is a terrorist for someone to go through that process. There are going to be easier ways for a terrorist to try to infiltrate, rather than going through the refugee-resettlement program.”
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