Chris Christie on Syrian refugees: Not even 'orphans under 5'

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2016 Candidates Reject Syrian Refugees

Like several of his fellow Republican presidential candidates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took a hard line Monday against the US accepting refugees from Syria.

"I do not trust this administration to effectively vet the people who are proposed to be coming in, in order to protect the safety and security of the American people, so I would not permit them in," Christie told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Hewitt pressed Christie on the possibility of even accepting "orphans under the age of 5," but the governor held firm.

"We can come up with 18 different scenarios. The fact is that we need appropriate vetting, and I don't think orphans under 5 should be admitted into the United States at this point," Christie said.

"They have no family here. How are we going to care for these folks?" he asked. "The fact is, you can come up with a number of different scenarios, Hugh. But in the end, I don't trust this administration to effectively vet the people that they're asking us to take in. We need to put the safety and security of the American people first."

The Syrian-refugee issue became a flash point in US politics after last week's terrorist attacks in Paris, which left more than 129 people dead. One of the attackers was reportedly carrying a passport that indicated that he was a Syrian refugee, which further ignited opposition to US President Barack Obama's plan to accept thousands of people fleeing the violence in Syria.

Most of the Republican field has slammed Obama on the issue since the weekend, and a number of governors said they would try to thwart Obama's plan in their states.

For his part, Obama issued a passionate defense of accepting Syrian refugees during a Monday press conference.

"The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife," Obama said. "It is very important ... that we do not close our hearts to the victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism."

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