A Texas Congressman is calling for an immediate halt to the Obama administration’s plan to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees, saying the plan is a threat to national security and that more should be done to ensure Christian refugees are getting help.
Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) appeared on the Laura Ingraham show on Monday to tout his latest bill, which calls for an immediate suspension of the Refugee Resettlement Program pending a “thorough examination” of the program’s costs and national security risks. The program allows the U.S. government to admit refugees when it is justified by humanitarian concerns.
But according to Babin, the program is a conduit for terrorist groups like ISIS to “set up bases of operations” in the United States, and should be suspended. At the same time, though, he said the U.S. should be doing more to accept Christian refugees.
“The most persecuted religious minority in the world have been Christians, and of these 70,000, soon to be 100,000 per year coming in from the Middle East, less than four percent are Christian,” he said. “The Christians are afraid, and do not go into these human refugee camps, and therefore they are not included by the U.N. to have refugee status to come into the states. This has got to be addressed as well.”
Listen here (Babin’s interview starts at the 49 minute mark):
While Christian persecution is increasingly a problem in the Middle East, the vast majority of refugees are Muslims, and many humanitarian advocates have criticized prioritizing one religious group for resettlement over another.
Four years ago as Syria slipped into civil war, hundreds of thousands of Christians fled the country. With the rise of ISIS, thousands of Christians in Iraq and Syria have been forced from their homes.
At the same time, the vast majority of refugees to Europe are coming from Syria — and among those, the vast majority are Sunni Muslims, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. And advocates say biases about which religious groups should be prioritized for resettlement could leave many affected Muslims in the dust.
On Ingraham’s show, there was certainly signs of bias against Muslims. At one point before her segment with Babin, she recalled being at the playground that week, and seeing “a girl who was maybe 11 or 12 on a scooter … with a full headscarf.”
“My kids were like, ‘what’s that?’” she said. “Then you see across the field, a woman with a full burqa sitting on a bench. I’m sorry, that’s not America. That’s not America. That is not the America I grew up in.”
Many say the bias against Muslims is due to concerns that ISIS — an extremist terrorist groups that proclaims itself Islamic — would infiltrate the U.S. through the refugee program. While U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper has expressed concern about that, he also said he was confident in the U.S. government’s “pretty aggressive” screening program for prospective refugees. As the Huffington Post explained, America’s refugee acceptance process “is hardly a matter of simply waving through the first 10,000 people who come forward … The screening process ‘typically takes 12 to 18 months … and the reason for that process is that the safety and security of the U.S. homeland comes first.’”
Still, the idea that Christian refugees should be taken in over Muslims is not new, and has gained popularity in countries that don’t have the same screening processes as the United States. Slovakia, for example, has pledged to accept 200 Syrian refugees — but only if they are Christian. The Australian government has also faced pressure from members of the country’s right-wing Liberal Party to prioritize Christians.
Refugee advocates have argued that, if Western nations focus on taking in Christian refugees, ISIS leaders could twist it to their advantage.
“They would use it as an argument to push the view that the west cares about Christians and does not care about Muslims and other religious minorities,” Refugee Council chief executive Paul Power told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Others just say the approach is needlessly discriminatory.
“Being a victim of war doesn’t know a particular religion,” Australia Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said. “If you’re a woman facing terrible crimes to be committed against you, if you’re a child, a little child, potentially drowning at sea, I’m not interested in their religion, I’m interested in their safety.”
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