Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says that Syrian refugees “want to go back home.” The retired neurosurgeon added that this was the consensus amongst the Syrians he met during the candidate’s surprise tour of a refugee camp in Jordan during Thanksgiving weekend.
“I had an opportunity to talk to many of the Syrian refugees and ask them, ‘What is your supreme desire?’” Carson said on ABC's "This Week" Nov. 29. “And it was pretty uniform — they want to go back home.”
The candidate added that he was surprised by the refugees’ wishes.
“We’re hearing that they all want to come here to the U.S.," he said. "And that’s not what they want. They want to go back home.”
The retired neurosurgeon toured a Syrian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan, on Nov. 28. He released a statement during his visit which said that “bringing 25,000 refugees to the U.S. does nothing to solve this crisis,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
Instead, Carson wrote that the U.S. should focus on financially supporting countries like Jordan, which has taken in over a million refugees.
“Jordan needs and deserves our help,” the statement read, according to The Wall Street Journal. “They (the refugees) came to Jordan for safety. Jordan is doing an amazing job opening its doors and extending a hand in relief. The rest of the world could be doing so much more.”
During his interview on ABC's "This Week," Carson added that the refugees do not mind their current placement in camps as long as their needs are taken care of.
“They are satisfied to be in the refugee camps if the refugee camps are adequately funded,” Carson said. “Recognize that in these camps they have schools, they have recreational facilities that are really quite nice. And there are all kind of things that make life more tolerable.”
Carson’s visit to the Jordanian refugee camp follows his controversial comment, in which he likened Syrian refugees to “rabid dogs,” The Journal reports. After receiving backlash for his remark, the GOP candidate said that his words were taken out of context.
Carson also dismissed rumors that his visit to Jordan was a response to his critics who claim that he lacks any foreign policy experience. Instead, he told ABC's "This Week" that, “I’m acknowledging that I like to know what I’m talking about."
Carson concluded that the Syrian refugees do not need to be admitted to the U.S. but that America has a responsibility to support them.
“Jordan is a small country,” Carson said. “They need the world’s help to feed, educate and care for these refugees until the war ends… they want to go back to their lives. We must find a political end to this conflict.”