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C. Eugene Emery Jr.
By C. Eugene Emery Jr. July 20, 2016
Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde July 20, 2016

Newt Gingrich says Hillary Clinton wants to increase number of Syrian refugees by 500 percent

On the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich scoffed at Hillary Clinton’s willingness to accept a substantial amount of refugees from war-torn Syria into the United States.

"We know that Hillary Clinton and President Obama lie to the American people when they say they can safely screen the Syrian refugees. They cannot," Gingrich said. "And yet Hillary wants to increase the number by 500 percent.

Clinton has been called out on this before — by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The basis for the claim stems from a Sept. 20, 2015, interview with Clinton on CBS' Face the Nation. Host John Dickerson asked Clinton if President Barack Obama’s plan to increase the number of Syrians allowed in the country to 10,000 was enough. (The United States had accepted about 2,000 by 2015.)

Clinton said she would like to see even more refugees allowed into the country — suggesting as much as a 550 percent increase.

"Look, we’re facing the worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II, and I think the United States has to do more," Clinton said, "and I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000 to 65,000 and begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in."

In a speech in December 2015, Clinton said, "It would be a cruel irony indeed if ISIS can force families from their homes and then also prevent them from finding new ones."

She also said there had to be vigilant screening and vetting of refugees from Syria and that such process historically takes up to two years. The estimated wait checks out.

Featured Fact-check

Gingrich says the government cannot adequately screen Syrian refugees. The refugees admissions process actually involves the FBI as well as the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and other agencies.

FBI director James Comey has said there are challenges and could be gaps in any admissions process of refugees from a conflict zone. However, Gingrich failed to acknowledge the lengthy process before any refugee is admitted into the United States that includes in-person interviews, health screenings and referrals by nongovernmental agencies. (Read more about Syrian refugees in our PolitiFact Sheet.)

Our ruling

Gingrich said Clinton "wants to increase the number (of Syrian refugees) by 500 percent."

Clinton has said she’d like the country to move from 10,000 Syrian refugees under Obama’s plan to 65,000, an increase that could be as high as 550 percent.

Gingrich said the United States cannot screen the additional refugees, but that ignores the average screening process of one to two years and involving in-person interviews and NGO referrals.

With that caveat, we rate Gingrich’s statement Mostly True.

Our Sources

Newt Gingrich speech at the Republican National Convention, July 20, 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry announces increase of refugee acceptance, Sept. 20, 2015

PolitiFact, "Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton wants to let 500 percent more Syrians into the U.S.," June 13, 2016

Email, Josh Schwerin, spokesman, Hillary Clinton campaign, June 13, 2016

CBS News, "Hillary Clinton: U.S. should take 65,000 Syrian refugees," Sept. 20, 2015

"Hillary Clinton outlines "360-degree" strategy on homeland security," Dec. 15, 2015, "Hillary Clinton Lays Out Comprehensive Plan To Bolster Homeland Security," Dec. 15, 2015

Wall Street Journal, Hillary Clinton: U.S. should accept 65,000 Syrian Refugees, Sept. 20, 2015

PolitiFact, Politifact Sheet: 5 questions about Syrian refugees, Nov. 19, 2015

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by C. Eugene Emery Jr.

Newt Gingrich says Hillary Clinton wants to increase number of Syrian refugees by 500 percent

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