Christians Need Not Apply: Few Syrian Christian Refugees Allowed into US
CBN News Gary Lane
The Obama administration has surpassed its goal of receiving 10,000 Syrian refugees by Oct. 1, but very few of the new arrivals are Christian.
The official count for the fiscal year reached 10,126 resettled Syrians when 224 refugees arrived Monday. They are among 12,000 Syrian refugees interviewed earlier this year in Jordan by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Although 1 million Christians have fled Syria, Christians comprise only 0.51 percent of the refugee total. More than 98 percent of those allowed into the United States this fiscal year are Sunni Muslims, the largest Islamic sect in Syria comprising 74 percent of that population.
Some Christians believe the Syrian Christian immigration numbers should be much higher; the percentage of those allowed into the United States should reflect their percentage of the population in Syria.
Last September, President Obama pledged to increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed to enter the United States. He set a goal of 10,000, six times the number of those allowed to enter the U.S. in FY 2015 when a total of 1682 were admitted – that compared to only 105 Syrian refugees admitted in FY 2014.
Although Christians are 10 percent of the Syrian population, only 100 Syrian Christian refugees have been allowed to enter the United States since the start of the civil war more than five years ago.
Why so few Christians?
Earlier this year some of the Republican presidential candidates–Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump said greater immigration priority should be given to Syrian Christians over Muslims.
President Obama has argued there should be no religious litmus test for admitting Syrian refugees. He said such a policy would be un-American.
“When individuals say we should have a religious test and that only Christians, proven Christians, should be admitted, that’s offensive and contrary to American values,” the president said.
Last March, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that atrocities committed by the Islamic State against Yazidis, Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria constituted genocide.
But so far, the genocide declaration has not changed the number of affected minorities allowed into the United States. In addition to receiving only 52 Christians this fiscal year, the government has only admitted 14 Yazidis and 20 Shi’a Muslims into the country (official figures released before the Monday arrivals).
The Obama administration has yet to announce its goal for next year, but immigration observers expect the number to be set at 20,000. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she’d like to see the number increased to 65,000.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says that would amount to a 500 percent increase in Syrian refugees admitted into the country. He has called it a “bigger version of the legendary Trojan Horse.”
He and other Republicans say the government lacks a thorough vetting program for the refugees and the current process exposes the people of the U.S. to the possibility of more Islamic terror attacks like those that occurred in San Bernardino and Orlando.