As Justin Trudeau was officially welcomed by President Barack Obama at the White House, new polling suggests half of Americans see Canada’s acceptance of 25,000 Syrian refugees as a security threat to the U.S.
The Ipsos poll, conducted exclusively for Global News, found U.S. respondents were divided as to whether Canada’s acceptance of refugees is a security risk.
The online panel of 1,006 people found 50 per cent agree (23 per cent strongly/27 per cent somewhat) that they’re “not concerned about the 25,000 Syrian refugees that Canada has accepted pose a security threat to the United states,” while the other half (21 per cent strongly/29 per cent somewhat) say they’re not concerned.
“It speaks to Americans high level of concern about terrorism that peaked following the events in Paris and San Bernardino, California,” said Julia Clark, a senior vice-president and pollster with Ipsos. “[The U.S.] is a country with very, very mixed views on the acceptance of refugees and political refugees.”
The federal government recently completed the resettlement of 25,000 refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. The resettlement program was launched in November after the Liberals came to power with the promise to bring in 25,000 refugees by the end of 2015. The deadline was pushed back to February after it became apparent they would not meet their original target date.
The U.S. meanwhile has managed to resettle only 955 Syrian refugees, with 114 resettled during February, according to the advocacy group Human Rights First. Obama had vowed to take in 10,000 refugees during the 2016 fiscal year.
Immigration and the refugee issue have been flashpoints in the U.S. primaries, with several candidates taking an extreme stance on the issue including Republican presidential contenders Donald Trump and Ted Cruz who have called for complete bans on Syrian refugees. Republicans have argued that America needs to strengthen its security checks for refugees in light of recent terror attacks.
Matt Browne, a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress, says the new Ipsos data is an “indictment” of the political and public debate in the U.S.
“It shows there has been a lack of leadership on the refugee issue,” said Browne. “There has not been enough political pushback in general against the fear and anger that is being stoked by the Conservatives in this country on this issue.”
“This has unfortunately shaped a lot of people’s opinions in this country and there hasn’t been enough pushback.”
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Trump has made several racially charged comments on immigration including dubbing Mexican immigrants racists and supporting a ban on Muslim immigration. During a February town hall in New Hampshire Trump said he would be able to look Syrian refugee children in the eyes and say “You can’t come here.”
“I clearly think that the politics being pushed by Trump, and not just Trump, and vilifying Muslims is having an impact here,” said Browne. “For America to become a society that is closed off that doesn’t look to open its doors and to provide opportunity for all those that want to work hard and get ahead then one of the things that’s been a driver economic growth will disappear.”
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between March 4 and 7, 2016, with a sample of 1,006 American from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all American adults been polled.
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