Obama Doubles Down on Syrian Refugee Policy During Easter Address
President Barack Obama used an Easter Weekend radio address to double down on his promise to admit 100,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the United States this year. He also vowed to "root out" and "defeat" the Islamic State, but obviously it will be be up to the next commander in chief to fulfill that promise.
"We have to wield another weapon alongside our airstrikes, our military, our counterterrorism work, and our diplomacy," Obama said. "And that's the power of our example. Our openness to refugees fleeing ISIL's violence. Our determination to win the battle against ISIL's hateful and violent propaganda – a distorted view of Islam that aims to radicalize young Muslims to their cause."
In his brief speech, Obama underscored that the United States' has to engage Muslims as partners in the fight against terrorism. He took apparent shots at proposals by Republican presidential candidates. Donald Trump has called for barring Muslims from entering the United States. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas urged preemptively expanding police presence to "secure" Muslim neighborhoods, though American Muslim communities have been been a source of domestic terrorism.
Obama's Syrian and Iraqi refugee program has become a divisive issue in the U.S. in recent months, with most polls showing a majority of Americans opposed to bringing in legions of Muslims from terrorist-infested countries.
Congress voted overwhelmingly last fall to put a "pause" on the program, but when the fine print of the law was analyzed, it turned out the law that was passed was not all that different from existing policy.
The bill doesn’t explicitly pause the in-take of Syrian refugees; it adds an additional layer of certification. The theory is that figuring out how to do this will take time and therefore constitute an effective pause. But it’s highly doubtful that an administration that has torn up the law to get its way on amnesty is going to let the need for a few additional signatures prevent it from working its will on Syrian refugees.
Only 0.4% of the Syrian refugees admitted to the United States since the ISIS attacks in Paris last November are Christian (3 out of 776), according to the Refugee Processing Center data.