In defending a policy proposal that calls for stricter vetting of Syrian refugees entering the United States, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson compared some of the fleeing migrants to "rabid dogs" and warned that it would be "foolish" to accept such people into the U.S.
"We must always balance. We must balance safety against just being a humanitarian," Carson said Thursday in Mobile, Alabama.
"For instance, if there's a rabid dog running around your neighborhood you're probably not gonna assume something good about that dog and you're probably gonna put your children out of the way," he said. "Doesn't mean that you hate your dogs by any stretch of the imagination. But you're putting your intellect into motion and you're thinking 'how do I protect my children?'"
Carson continued the analogy further: "At the same time, I love dogs and I'm gonna call the humane society. Hopefully they can come and take this dog away and create a safe environment once again."
Echoing the fear that some refugees could be extremist fighters aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the retired neurosurgeon proposed increasing background checks on the migrants to allow the U.S. to "determine who the mad dogs are."
"Who are the people who want to come in here and hurt us and want to destroy us?" Carson asked reporters. "Until we know how to do that, just like it would be foolish to put your child out in the neighborhood knowing that that was going on, it is foolish for us to accept people if we cannot have the appropriate type of screening."
Since the deadly terror attacks unfolded last week in Paris, other Republican candidates have ramped up their call for greater scrutiny of refugees entering the country and have lambasted President Obama's plan to take in as many as 10,000 refugees over the next year. Some, like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have even proposed that only Christian Syrians should be granted asylum in the U.S.
Several state governors -- nearly all of them Republican -- have also pledged to close their doors to any Syrian refugees, though they may not have a legal leg to stand on to keep their promise.
On Wednesday, the president derided GOP candidates over their rhetoric on Syrian refugees, calling their words offensive and calling for an end to the hateful views.
"Apparently they're scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America," President Obama said during a meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino. "I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that's been coming out of here during the course of this debate."
Federal legislation that would significantly delay the White House's Syrian refugee plan passed through the House on Thursday. The Senate is expected to take up the bill after the Thanksgiving break. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.