Are most Syrian refugees really “strong, powerful men”?

No, Trump, Most Syrian Refugees Aren’t “Strong, Powerful Men”

No, Trump, Most Syrian Refugees Aren’t “Strong, Powerful Men”

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Jan. 14 2016 10:00 PM

No, Trump, Most Syrian Refugees Aren’t “Strong, Powerful Men”

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NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to the crowd before participating in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top seven candidates, and another for three other candidates lower in the current polls. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

In Thursday night’s debate, Donald Trump repeated a line he has used before to justify his opposition to admitting Syrian refugees in to the U.S., saying, “When I look at the migration, I look at the line, I said actually on your show recently, where are the women? It looked like very few women. Very few children. Strong, powerful men.”

If Trump is talking about refugees heading to the United States, this just isn’t true. According to data from the Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System, as reported by the BBC in November, the gender breakdown of Syrian refugees entering the United States since 2011 is 52.98 percent male, 47.05 percent female. More than half of those refugees have been under 20 years old.

Of the more than 4.6 million Syrian refugees registered by the UNHCR in camps in the Middle East, the split is basically even, with 50.7 percent women.

It is true that the current wave of refugees heading to Europe—from a number of countries, including Syria—is overwhelmingly male, about 69 percent as of last fall. This has been a matter of some concern in Europe, especially in light of recent events in Germany. But Trump’s fixation on strong, powerful Syrian men doesn’t match up with what the U.S. is seeing—and, to be honest, is getting a little strange.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and author of the forthcoming book, Invisible Countries.