Trump to Prioritize Persecuted Christians as Refugees

Syrian refugee children stand in front of their family residence during rainy weather at the Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria December 18, 2016.
Syrian refugee children stand in front of their family residence during rainy weather at the Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria December 18, 2016. | REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

President Donald Trump signed new orders to "keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America" and pledged to give priority to persecuted Christians as refugees.

"We are going to help them (persecuted Christians). They've been horribly treated," Trump told CBN News Friday, the day he signed new orders to tighten America's refugee and visa policies.

"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," Trump continued in the interview with The Brody File, which will be aired Sunday.

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Christian Freedom International president Jim Jacobson praised the order.

"This means that persecuted Christians will finally be considered for resettlement. Under the Obama administration, persecuted Christians from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere were either essentially ignored or flatly denied consideration for resettlement to the U.S," Jacobson said in a statement. "The Trump administration has given hope to persecuted Christians that their cases will finally be considered."

According to the executive order Trump signed, there will be a 120-day moratorium on any new refugees entering the country so that the government gets the time to formulate a plan to prioritize persecuted Christians, The Associated Press reported.

In the fiscal year of 2016, the United States admitted 84,995 refugees, out of which 12,587 were from Syria, according to the Pew Research Center. President Obama had a plan to admit 110,000 refugees into the country in 2017, but President Trump is likely to bring the number down to 50,000, according to The New York Times.

The Refugee Processing Center data shows that more than 98 percent of the Syrian refugees who were allowed into the U.S. in 2016 were Sunni Muslims, and Christian refugees accounted for only 0.5 percent.

The newswire says President Trump also plans to suspend issuing visas for people from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 30 days.

The new order also creates an "extreme vetting" process for any and all immigrants and visitors to the U.S., according to Fox News, which said Trump is also directing the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department to prepare a plan to create safe zones in Syria and the surrounding area within 90 days.

However, some Christian groups have expressed dismay at Trump's plans to curb refugee resettlement.

Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, a charity established by the National Association of Evangelicals, said in a statement, "The lengthy delay imposed in this ban further traumatizes refugees, most of whom are women and children, keeps families separated and punishes people who are themselves fleeing the terror we as a nation are rightly fighting to end."

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