WASHINGTON — Ben Carson said Sunday that most Syrian refugees would rather be relocated within their own country than resettled in the United States.
The Republican presidential contender made a post-Thanksgiving trip to Jordan to visit refugee camps — an effort to shore up the foreign policy credentials that have been a weak spot in his campaign.
In an interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar that’s set to air in the noon hour of Sunday’s “State of the Union,” Carson compared the stop in Jordan to a trip he took to the U.S.-Mexico border to learn about immigration.
And he concluded that refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war and the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq shouldn’t be resettled in the United States.
“The thing that I really learned in listening to the refugees themselves is their intense desire is to return to their country and repatriated,” Carson said.
“There’s so many people who think the ideal for everybody is to come to America and be resettled here but that is not the ideal for everybody,” he said. “And we need to be looking at mechanisms that already exist. Why do you want to recreate the wheel when you have something that’s working? Let’s maximize that and then let’s think about if we need recreate other wheels.”
Carson implied that the United States should spend more money aiding the refugee camps, rather than resettling small numbers of those refugees.
“They don’t have enough money,” he said. “You look at last year, there was a $3 billion shortfall. That’s the same amount of money we spent last month on Halloween candy.”
He said his trip was “about fact-finding — about getting an opportunity to see firsthand without having things reinterpreted over something that is really important.”
He said refugees told him that “their desire, their true desire is to be resettled in Syria.”
He continued: “But they are satisfied to be in the refugee camps if the refugee camps are adequately funded. Recognize that in these camps they have schools, they have recreational facilities that are really quite nice. And their all kind of things that make life more tolerable. Would it be better to integrate them into society? Yes, and I’ve certainly talked to some people about that. But you have to make progress as you go.”