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Muslim Ban? Tillerson's State Department STILL Discriminates Against Syrian Christian Refugees

Since President Trump's inauguration on January 20, the State Department under Rex Tillerson has admitted only 28 Syrian Christian refugees, representing only 1.4 percent of the total. About 10 percent of Syrians are Christian.

This continues a policy of open anti-Christian discrimination established by the Obama administration -- which Trump had promised to end.

The State Department's Refugee Processing Center shows that, of the Syrian refugees admitted during the Trump administration, 1,932 Muslims and only 37 non-Muslims have been admitted. I reported on several occasions here at PJ Media last year on the Obama administration's anti-Christian policy in the midst of the presidential election, when Trump's call for a moratorium on refugees from terrorist states was being hotly discussed.

Just days after his inauguration in an interview with David Brody of CBN News, President Trump decried the Obama administration's treatment of Syrian Christians:

DAVID BRODY: Persecuted Christians, we’ve talked about this, the refugees overseas. The refugee program, or the refugee changes you’re looking to make. As it relates to persecuted Christians, do you see them as kind of a priority here?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes.

DAVID BRODY: You do?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.

The Obama administration's discriminatory policies were noted by a federal appeals court judge, who wrote in an opinion last year that the considerably low number of Christians being admitted by the State Department was a "perplexing discrepancy."

In that opinion, Seventh Circuit Judge Daniel Manion noted:

It is well‐documented that refugees to the United States are not representative of that war‐torn area of the world. Perhaps 10 percent of the population of Syria is Christian, and yet less than one‐half of one percent of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States this year are Christian [...]

To date, there has not been a good explanation for this perplexing discrepancy.

Looking at the population figures of Syria before the war began in 2011 bears out the judge's concern. According to The Gulf/2000 Project at Columbia University, the religious breakdown of the Syrian population from 2008-2009 showed that 15.98 million were Sunnis (73 percent of the population) while 3.29 million were Shiites (14.7 percent of the population). Christians accounted for 2.04 million people, or 9.3 percent of the population, while other religions accounted for 590,000 people, or 2.7 percent of the population.

From the beginning of 2016 to the last day of Obama's presidency, only 147 Syrian Christians were admitted -- representing 0.8 percent of the 16,329 refugees admitted during that period.

But these anti-Christian policies didn't just apply to Syrian refugees.

As I reported earlier this year, during the entire Obama administration -- as attacks of Egypt's Coptic Christian community skyrocketed -- only 22 Coptic Christians were admitted as refugees. In 2013 and 2014 as the Muslim Brotherhood waged a terror campaign targeting Christians in Egypt, the Obama administration didn't admit a single Egyptian Christian.

There is good reason to be concerned about the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in Syria. At a press conference in August, Secretary of State Tillerson said:

[ISIS is] clearly responsible for genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled.

The State Department's Report on International Religious Freedom highlighted anti-Christian persecution in Syria by Sunni extremists, including ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

Just last week at an international conference on religious persecution, Syriac Christian Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II estimated that 50 percent of Syria's Christians had left the country as refugees. This would represent more than one million Syrian Christian refugees:

In recent years when questioned about the "perplexing discrepancies" noted by Judge Manion, the State Department has blamed the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who initiates the refugee vetting process. But UN officials have offered disturbingly outlandish claims as to why they process so few Syrian Christians, including the assertion that Christians don't want to leave Syria -- despite the testimony of Syrian Christian leaders such as the patriarch above.

Obama State Department officials expressed no concern that, despite their administration's public statements about raising the caps on Syrian refugees, so few Christians were being admitted through the current process.

That same policy discriminating against Christians has transferred to the Trump administration, despite President Trump's public vow to give them priority.

If only we had an institution in America, like a free press, to ask why that is.