Republican candidate Donald Trump has slammed President Obama’s effort to turnaround perceptions of Syrian refugees by calling his Syrian guest at the State of the Union address a “trojan horse” for terrorism.
In the Republican debate on Thursday night Mr Trump was questioned on his view about President Obama inviting Syrian refugee, 55-year-old Refaai Hamo, to sit beside Michelle Obama during the State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Dr Hamo, who fled to Turkey in 2013 after seven family members were killed in anti-government warfare, arrived in Detroit in December with his three daughters and his son.
Mr Trump responded: “It was all very nice, it was perfect. But fear and terror - it’s reality - just look at Indonesia, bombings all over. Look at California and Paris."
“[Dr Hamo] doesn’t represent what you have in that line of migration. It’s the trojan horse. They [the refugees] are going to do great destruction.”
The Republican candidate said he had noticed “very few women and children” in the so-called lines of refugees, and only saw “strong, powerful men”.
Mr Trump then referred to the married couple who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before embarking on a killing spree in San Bernardino, California last year.
“We can’t let these people come into our country and break our borders. We can’t do it,” he said.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie added at the debate: “Syrians should stay in Syria. They shouldn’t be going to Europe or to the US."
Mr Hamo received a lot of public support for telling his story. Mr Obama reportedly spotted Mr Hamo, who also lost his wife in Syria, when he spoke to Facebook group Humans of New York.
“I am so proud and honored to be in this country and look forward to one day becoming an American citizen so that we can be part of making America a strong and great country,” Mr Hamo said, as reported by USA Today.
Republicans have come under fire for suggesting that too many Syrian refugees want to come to the US - it has been pointed out that any Syrian wanting to emigrate to the US can wait up to two years to carry out detailed background checks.
Around 2,000 Syrian refugees have entered the US in the last four years.
Mr Trump also said during the debate that he had no regrets for calling for a “temporary” ban on Muslims entering the US.