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.