By Joseph Klein
After declaring that Christians have “been horribly treated” by the refugee program under former President Barack Obama, President Donald Trump has reversed the Obama administration’s disgraceful discrimination against Christian refugees.
According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. State Department refugee data, during the period from January 21, 2017 – President Trump’s first full day in office – through June 30, “9,598 Christian refugees arrived in the U.S., compared with 7,250 Muslim refugees. Christians made up 50% of all refugee arrivals in this period, compared with 38% who are Muslim.”
From April through June 2017, Iraq was “the only Muslim-majority nation among the top six origin countries.” The number of Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. from January 21, 2017 through June 30, 2017 was 1779. Comparing the number of refugee admissions from Syria for the entire month of January with the entire month of February 2017, the number dropped by nearly half. By June 2017, the number of refugees admitted from Syria was about 26 percent of the already low number of 673 admitted in February.
By contrast, Pew Research Center reported that in fiscal year 2016 – Barack Obama’s last full fiscal year as president – “the U.S. admitted the highest number of Muslim refugees of any year since data on self-reported religious affiliations first became publicly available in 2002.” Overall, the number of Muslims admitted as refugees exceeded the number of Christians who were admitted.
Of the 12,486 refugees from Syria admitted to the United States during that same fiscal year by the Obama administration, about 99 percent were Muslim and less than 1 percent were Christian. Estimates of the Christians’ proportion of the total population of Syria have ranged from 5 to 10 percent since the onset of the Syrian civil war. Muslims made up 87% of Syria’s total population.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry declared in March of last year that the Islamic State had been committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the Obama administration decided that Christians and other refugees belonging to minority religious faiths did not deserve any priority for admission to the U.S. In fact, the Obama administration discriminated against Christians. It admitted proportionately less Christians relative to the total number of refugees from Syria than even the lower end of Christians’ estimated proportion of the total population of Syria. Incredibly, since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, approximately 96% of the Syrian refugees admitted to the United States by the Obama administration were Sunni Muslims even though ISIS and al Qaeda jihadists are themselves Sunni Muslims. The ideology of Wahhabism fueling the jihadists’ reign of terror, exported by Saudi Arabia, is of Sunni Muslim origin.
Obama followed a deliberate anti-Christian refugee policy, while condescendingly lecturing Christians to remember the misdeeds he says were committed in the name of Christ many years ago. During a National Prayer Breakfast in 2015, for example, Obama said: “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Obama’s walk through his version of Christian history somehow balances out in his mind the genocide committed by jihadists against Christians on his own watch.
Obama not only insulted Christians who have been facing persecution and death on a mass scale at the hands of Islamist terrorists. He twisted history in trying to invoke his moral relativism. He conveniently left out that the Crusades were a response to Muslim invasions that had resulted in the capture of two-thirds of the old Christian world and that Christian churches took a leadership role in the fights against slavery and segregation.
Thus, it was no surprise that Obama sharply criticized the suggestion that persecuted Christians be given preference for admission as refugees. He said that “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… that’s shameful.” Obama added: “That’s not American, it’s not who we are.”
Obama’s refugee policy was both “shameful” and “not American.” It discriminated against Christians and other non-Muslim minority religious groups who needed refugee status protection the most, while vastly favoring the one group of refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries who needed protection the least– Sunni Muslims. The policy ignored the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which defined the crime of genocide as including “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a religious group.” (Emphasis added) Obama’s refugee policy also ignored the fact that “refugee” is defined in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees as including “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted” because of that person’s “religion.”
Christians and other religious minorities seeking refuge from genocide and persecution in Syria and other Muslim-majority countries are clearly the most at risk today if they are forced to remain in those countries. Any just refugee policy for the United States must be based on the principle that those most at risk receive the highest priority in admission decisions. President Trump has tried valiantly to correct the misdeeds of the Obama administration by following that principle, which explains at least in part his administration’s reversal of the number of Christian versus Muslim admissions. When refugee admissions to the United States resume after President Trump’s temporary suspension order expires, President Trump should continue to undo the Obama administration’s inexcusable discrimination against Christian victims of Muslim jihadist persecution.