Obama Plays Politics, Christian Refugees Suffer

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In his zeal to shame Republicans for suggesting U.S. refugee policy in Syria should focus on Christians, President Barack Obama has revealed his ignorance of U.S. refugee law when he claims there is no religious test involved in determining refugee status.

The Refugee Act of 1980, which is the law that governs U.S. refugee policy, sets forth five criteria by which a foreigner may be deemed a refugee – and religion is one of them. The definition of refugee is "any such person… who is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of [his country of nationality] because of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." [emphasis added].

Syrian and Iraqi Christians who are fleeing the Islamic State have a strong claim that they satisfy the definition of "refugee" because of their religion.

Reports abound of Christians being raped, sold into slavery and beheaded by the ISIS for refusing to convert to Islam.

The first U.S. airstrikes against ISIS were launched against ISIS forces in Iraq in defense of the Yazidi, a unique religious community in Iraq.

Since the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011 only 2.4 percent of the approximately 2,184 Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. have been Christian – 96 percent have been Muslim.

Yet, nearly all the Christians and Yazidis who had been living in areas controlled by ISIS have been displaced.

Heated rhetoric on Syrian refugees echoes shameful mistakes of our past: Cynthia Tucker
Heated rhetoric on Syrian refugees echoes shameful mistakes of our past: Cynthia Tucker
Yes, Americans are shocked and frightened — and understandably so. But whatever happened to political leadership?

Why has America taken in so few Christians? Perhaps, it comes down to the Obama administration’s biased policies – biased against Christians.

The Obama administration is only admitting to the U.S. refugees from camps operated throughout the Middle East by the U.N. High Commission on Refugees.

But this policy ignores the fact that Syrian and Iraqi Christians are not entering the camps because they fear persecution from the Sunni Muslims in the camps and from jihadists being sent by ISIS into the camps to target and kill Christians.

Additionally, the State Department has decided the U.S. will accept only those Syrians who are persecuted "by their government." While this includes Sunni Muslims "persecuted" by the Shia-led government of Bashar al-Assad, for the most part it excludes Christians targeted by ISIS because the Assad government protects Christians.

For these reasons many Americans believe the Obama administration’s refugee policy discriminates against Christians and favors Muslims.

Republican presidential candidates have called for a moratorium on taking in any new Syrian refugees.

Donald Trump says if elected president, he will send the Syrian refugees back. The majority of Americans have strong objections to our taking in any new Syrian refugees at this time.

Should the U.S. turn away Syrian refugees?: Red/Blue America
Should the U.S. turn away Syrian refugees?: Red/Blue America
Is this a case of callousness and political cynicism? Or are there legitimate reasons to re-think U.S. policy on Syrian refugee resettlement? Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, weigh in.

Nevertheless, Obama intends to bring 10,000 Syrians, many of whom will be Muslim, to America this year alone.

The U.S. has accepted 2 million refugees from Muslim countries since 1992. According to The Wall Street Journal, since 2011, America has taken in about 332,000 refugees (2,200 of whom were Syrian).

It’s a total population larger than that of Pittsburgh’s.

Meanwhile, at least 66 men and women have been charged with ISIS-related terror plots on American soil – including refugees.

They include the Tsarnaev brothers, who bombed the Boston Marathon killing five. They came to the United States on tourist visas and later applied for political asylum.

They also include two al-Qaeda-linked terrorists who obtained a Stinger missile launcher with the intention of attacking a military base in Kentucky.

And in the Paris attacks, at least one of the Muslim terrorists slipped into Europe through a refugee processing center on a Greek Island using a fake Syrian passport.

When he was asked by Congress about the threat of terrorists slipping in with Muslim refugees, FBI Director James Comey said he "[couldn’t] sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted that ISIS operatives posing as refugees are a "huge concern.”

But Obama is still intent upon bringing in thousands of additional Muslim refugees. At the same time he misunderstands — or intentionally disregards — the religious test set forth in the Refugee Act of 1980 that favors the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi Christians.

It is time for a moratorium on taking in any additional refugees.

Marc A. Scaringi, is a Harrisburg lawyer, a former candidate for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in 2012 and the host of The Marc Scaringi Show on WHYL 960AM Sundays from 10AM to 11AM.