Political leaders are resistant to accept refugees into America, while Obama says discriminating based on religion is “shameful.” Donald Trump responds: “Is our president insane?”
In the aftermath of the terrorist Paris attacks, several political leaders in the United States have expressed resistance to Syrian refugees. House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Republican Michael McCaul of Texas demanded the suspension of their admission, while several Republican presidential candidates have warned on allowing any of the refugees to resettle in the U.S.
Republican governors in Alabama, Michigan, Illinois, Arkansas, Massachusetts and Texas have also stated that they will not accept Syrian refugees. Texas Governor Greg Abbott asserted in a letter to President Obama: “Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees – any one of whom could be connected to terrorism – being resettled in Texas.” Governor Abbott took to Twitter, saying: “Security comes first.”
BREAKING: Texas will not accept any Syrian refugees & I demand the U.S. act similarly. Security comes first. https://t.co/uE34eluXYd
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) November 16, 2015
President Obama made a solid stance built on compassion while speaking Monday at a news conference at the Group of 20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, saying that the “nation’s compassion [is] not dependent on religion.” He further emphasized that suggestions that the country impose a religious test on Syrian refugees are “shameful.” Obama stated resolutely: “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
Obama commented on the intent to admit Christian refugees while “slamming the door” to Muslim refugees: “When I hear folks say that maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful.”
The president cited the example of Pope Francis, who spoke about the protection of those who were vulnerable, and did not call on Catholic parishes to only accept “those who were of the same religious faith.” He called on political leaders: “I think it is very important for us right now, particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard, not to fall into that trap, not to feed that dark impulse inside of us."
Obama also clarified that refugees from Syria and other places will continue to be accepted, “only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks." U.S.-bound refugees are initially vetted by the government and the United Nations Refugee Agency, a process that takes about 18 to 24 months. He committed to admitting 10,000 Syrians early this year.
Paul Ryan, current speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, tweeted, “This is a moment when it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.” He is shown in the attached Speaker.gov video, saying: “Our nation has always been welcoming. But we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment when it is better to be safe than to be sorry. So we think the prudent, the responsible things, take a pause, in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that the terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population. In the end, the ultimate solution to this crisis is a strategy to defeat ISIS.”
This is a moment when it’s better to be safe than to be sorry. https://t.co/euXymh43tp
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) November 17, 2015
Controversial Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted in response, “Refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great country. Who knows who they are – some could be ISIS. Is our president insane?”
Refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great country. Who knows who they are – some could be ISIS. Is our president insane?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2015
In a Bloomberg interview, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush differentiated his stance from most Republican governors. “The answer is not to ban people from coming,” he said. “The answer is to lead, to resolve the problem in Syria.” He stressed that refugees should not be allowed entry if there is any type of concern, but that the support for refugees should not be eliminated.
According to CNN, the U.S. has accepted 2,178 Syrian refugees since March 2011. They have been admitted to 138 cities and towns in 36 states, and California, Texas, Michigan, Arizona and Illinois have accepted the greatest number.
There are 14 states that have not admitted any refugees, including: Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.
What's shameful is we have a President who after 7 yrs still refuses to utter the words “radical Islamic terrorism” https://t.co/nfgG61dVEq
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 17, 2015
"That's shameful. That's not American. That's not who we are." – Obama on Americans who want to turn away refugees
— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) November 16, 2015
Obama more passionate about defending Syrian refugees disguised as terrorists than Americans+calls our concerns "shameful." Obama shameful!
— Crystal Wright (@GOPBlackChick) November 16, 2015