US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump courted controversy again after he said Syrian refugees are "a possible army of Isis [Islamic State] terrorists". The staunch opponent of immigration policies, referring to the Islamist militant group, vowed to send the thousands of refugees back home "if [he] won the presidential race".
"I'm putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration that if I win, they're going back," Trump said at a rally in Keene, New Hampshire on Wednesday (30 September). He called their migration one of the great tactical ploys of all time, and questioned why the refugees were not fighting to save Syria and instead migrating to Europe and other western nations.
The real estate tycoon's comments came after US Secretary of State John Kerry announced earlier this month that the US government would raise its yearly quota to grant asylum to an additional 15,000 refugees under which Syrians are likely to get priority. Interestingly, prior to this announcement on 9 September, Trump had criticised the American leadership for not accepting more Syrian refugees. A few days later, however, he made a U-turn and said: "I think we should help, but I think we should be very careful because frankly, we have other big problems and cannot help everybody through the world."
Trump has been in the line of fire for his anti-immigration stand since his campaign began. The most prominent of those has been a series of attacks on Mexican immigrants saying he would build a wall across the southern borders of the country to resolve the issue of over-migration from Mexico.
On the other hand, Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush disagreed with rival Trump on handling the Syrian refugee crisis. At an event at New Hampshire, Bush accused Trump of "...big-dog, loud-talking and insulting leadership". He said, "Send them all back where? To a hell hole? My energy comes from helping people have a chance to live the lives that they want. The kind of leadership we need is servant leadership. You don't win by telling people how stupid they are."
Despite an array of controversies surrounding the business magnate, latest polls show that Trump is still leading the Republican presidential race. According to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll Trump "is in a comfortable lead" and Bush, who was just behind Trump a couple of months ago, has taken a "drastic hit" and is down to fifth place behind Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio. While only 8% of primary republican voters supported Bush, a whopping 23% put Trump in the lead.