White House press secretary Sean Spicer shut down speculation that President Trump’s emotional reaction to the chemical weapons attack that killed 80 in Syria last week had altered the administration’s stance on Syrian refugees.
In response to a question from a reporter about whether Trump was rethinking his travel ban’s stipulation barring Syrian refugees from entering the US, Spicer began, “I think you’ve heard a lot of these refugees talk about the fact in particular that they’re not looking to flee” Syria.
When reporters specified that the question was with regard to those who did want to leave the war-torn country, he said that the administration’s priority was to protect Americans’ safety and to create a situation in which Syrians did not have to flee their home country.
“That’s our number one goal: creating a safer environment, deescalating the conflict there,” Spicer said. “The goal isn’t to figure out how many people we can just import to this country.”
Despite his assertion that Trump had been “touched” by images of victims of the chemical weapons, he implied that the attack would not prompt a change in US policy towards accepting Syrian refugees.
“They have touched him, and I think that’s what he made very clear. That’s why, with the consent and guidance of his national security team” Trump ordered a military strike targeting the airfield from which the chemical weapons had been deployed, Spicer said.
“It was very extreme, it was moving. I don’t think you can watch those things … when you see young children and babies being gassed, it should move any human being,” he added, before saying that images of young children and babies who had been injured or killed as a result of the attack had played a role in Trump’s final decision to authorise the strike.
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