National Security

Nauert Defends Administration’s Syrian Refugee Stance: ‘Many Refugees Would Rather Stay Closer to Home’

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Tuesday defended the Trump administration's actions to date in handling refugees from Syria, saying many would prefer to stay closer to their own homes.

At a press briefing, Nauert was asked by Associated Press reporter Matt Lee if the United States was doing all it could for refugees while calling out other countries for not doing enough. Nauert said the steep drop in refugees being allowed into America was due to more vetting procedures.

"I'd also like to remind you that even though we think the United States of America is the best place to live in the world—no offense to my foreign reporter friends in the back—but even though many Americans think that, there are many refugees around the country who don't want to be uprooted from their home country and be sent to, no offense to Buffalo, but to Buffalo, New York," Nauert said.

Buffalo is Lee's hometown and he was quick to point out how many refugees currently live in the Buffalo area.

"What was surprising to me when I first joined the State Department in talking with many of my colleagues who work on refugee issues and have worked for Republican and Democratic administrations, they educated me on this. And they explained to me that many refugees would rather stay closer to home than get uprooted and go to Buffalo or Wisconsin … when it is safe. And that is a really important component to it. When they can do it in a dignified fashion, they would prefer to go to their own homes, not the great old U.S. of A," she said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also has mentioned that many Syrian refugees desire to stay close to their homes.