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President Obama on Accepting Syrian Refugees

A Syrian refugee child sleeps on his father's arms while waiting at a resting point to board a bus, after arriving on a dinghy from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Oct. 4 , 2015.

“Slamming the door in their faces, would be a betrayal of our values.”

The United States will not close its doors to refugees who are fleeing the violence in war-torn Syria. After reports that one of the ISIL terrorists involved in the Paris attacks on November 13 had entered Europe by posing as a refugee, new questions have arisen about the policy of admitting a portion of the Syrian refugee population into the United States.

President Obama on Accepting Syrian Refugees
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The United States had agreed to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016 which began October 1. At a press conference in Turkey following the G-20 summit, President Barack Obama said, “Slamming the door in their faces, would be a betrayal of our values.”

“The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. They are parents, they are children, they are orphans, and it is very important – and I was glad to see this affirmed again and again by the G-20 – that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”

President Obama noted that countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have already played an extraordinary role in accepting so many Syrian refugees, and that Europe’s resources are now also under great strain dealing with the recent influx. The United States must step up and do its part, Mr. Obama said, and must do so while ensuring the safety of the American people by subjecting the refugees to rigorous screening and security checks.

President Obama strongly rejected the idea that the United States should accept only Christian, and not Muslim, refugees from Syria. “We don’t have religious tests for our compassion,” he said. “That’s not American; it’s not who we are.”

“The values that we’re fighting against ISIL for are precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith,” said President Obama. “We are a nation of many peoples of different faiths which means that we show compassion to everybody. Those are the universal values we stand for.”