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DONAHUE - Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, on a campaign swing through Scott County on Thursday, rejected the idea the United States should take in Syrian refugees.
He said the number of real refugees from Syria is exaggerated, and there could be a risk to the United States.
In remarks to about 40 people at Cinnamon Ridge Farms, the former Arkansas governor praised farmers, saying they are true conservationists who contribute to the country's security.
He also called for more robust exploration of federal lands for timber and energy.
Huckabee toured the Cinnamon Ridge operation and even took a turn driving a combine.
Later, in answer to reporters' questions, Huckabee said most refugees aren't even from Syria, and he raised questions about the motives some have for fleeing.
'It matters if they're really refugees escaping terror, escaping potential death, or are they just looking at this as an opportunity to get out of their country and go find the benefits America will provide,” Huckabee said.
Some European critics asserted some of those fleeing to Europe are doing so for economic reasons. In addition, there are worries that fighters from the Islamic State might try to use the situation to infiltrate other countries.
For his part, Huckabee said safe havens for people who face danger should be established, but in the Middle East.
'We can't just bring a bunch of young unattached men who aren't even Syrian, who might be ISIS, and just open the floodgates and bring them into our own country,” he said. 'Good God, we've got to have better sense than that.”
In September, the Obama administration, under pressure from European countries, said it would take in 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year. Administration officials, however, said refugees will have to pass intense background checks.
Huckabee also reacted Thursday to the news there would be no cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients, many of whom face an increase in Medicare premiums.
The White House said it had discussions with some in Congress about how to resolve the situation.
The Social Security Administration said no adjustment was being made because consumer prices are down from last year. The law provides for an adjustment if the consumer price index goes up.
Huckabee said if Social Security recipients don't get a pay bump, Congress shouldn't either.
A 1989 law allows for annual congressional pay increases, unless lawmakers vote to reject it. They have done that for the past six years.