Obama on refugees: GOPers like Christie ‘scared of widows and orphans’
President Obama said Wednesday Republicans who demand the United States stop taking in Syrian refugees are engaging in "political posturing" — and took a pointed swipe at Gov. Chris Christie in the process.
"Apparently they're scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America," Obama said.
That quote was an apparent reference to Christie, who Monday on the conservative Hugh Hewitt radio show said he'd shut out refugees from the U.S. — even orphans under 5 years old (an example Hewitt brought up).
Christie's was of a growing chorus of governors saying they'll shut refugees out of their states following Friday's deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. But Lavinia Limon, president and CEO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigration, told the Associated Press that under the Refugee Act of 1980, governors cannot legally block refugees.
Tuesday, he wrote to Obama to say he wouldn't allow refugees in New Jersey, and said the state's Department of Human Services wouldn't participate in the resettlement of Syrian refugees. He also requested nongovernmental organizations notify the state's Office of Homeland Security about any they've helped settle.
According to State Department figures, 75 refugees have been settled in New Jersey since Jan. 1.
In Obama's comments Wednesday from the Philippines, he said Republicans' rhetoric on barring Syrian refugees was offensive, and said "it needs to stop."
Obama also said the rhetoric could be a recruitment tool for the Islamic State, which has taken credit for the Paris attacks.
"We are not well served when in response to a terrorist attack we descend into fear and panic," Obama said. said.
The Obama administration plans to bring an additional 10,000 Syrians fleeing civil war into the U.S.
Obama also had pointed comments for GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who'd initially said he'd want to only admit Christian Syrians, but then later said he'd want to give preference to Christians and not exclude properly vetted Muslims.
Obama said that "political posturing" was contrary to American values.
According to the Associated Press, although there are indications that one of the IS attackers carried a Syrian passport and may have arrived in France alongside refugees, Germany's top security official has said the passport might have been a fake intended to stoke fears.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.