Former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who came to the United States 67 years ago after her exile from Czechoslovakia, blasted Republican presidential candidates for their rhetoric toward Syrian refugees, saying it was based on fear and lack of information.
"The debate over refugees has been driven by fear, and our politics should never be based on the fear factor," Albright said in a conference call sponsored by the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress.
She even singled out Republican Ben Carson for comparing Syrian refugees to "rabid dogs," saying: "I find it stunning that there was a candidate who specifically said refugees are like dogs. I can tell you dogs in America are treated better than some of the refugees as they cross the ocean and drown."
Albright, who is supporting Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy, said the efforts to bar Syrian and Iraqi refugees is "deeply disturbing" on many levels, and damages America's image as a symbol of acceptance and liberty. She added that anti-refugee rhetoric perpetuates the narrative that Muslims are unwelcome in Western countries, which ISIS could use as a recruiting tool.
Albright's response comes amid fierce conservative pushback against President Obama's program to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. The House of Representatives -- with votes from almost four-dozen Democrats -- overwhelmingly passed a Republican-backed legislation to block refugees from entering the United States on Thursday, following vocal opposition from more than 31 U.S. governors refusing to accept refugees into their states.
Making pointed appeals to her own history as a Czechoslovakian refugee during the 1950s, Albright also said inflated anti-refugee rhetoric historically reemerges during periods of terror, which makes it difficult for Americans to understand the strife of incoming migrants.