Posted tagged ‘Christian refugees’

Reps Push Trump Admin to Bypass U.N. and Help Iraqi Christians, Yazidis Directly

October 18, 2017

Reps Push Trump Admin to Bypass U.N. and Help Iraqi Christians, Yazidis Directly, Washington Free Beacon , October 18, 2017

Church of Mart Shmoni in Erbil / Getty Images

Four House members are pressing the top official of the U.S. Agency for International Development to bypass the United Nations and channel funds intended to help Christians and Yazidis in Iraq directly to Catholic charities and others helping them on the ground.

The urgent push comes amid dire warnings from lawmakers and human rights activists that Christians and Yazidis, already victims of genocide at the hands of the Islamic State, are on the verge of extinction in Northern Iraq, their home for thousands of years.

The lawmakers also point to new evidence of corruption in the United Nations’ process for stabilization projects in Iraq.

Republican Reps. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Robert Aderholt of Alabama, and Chris Smith of New Jersey, along with Democrat Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, sent a letter to USAID Administrator Mark Green last week arguing that these communities now face “dire conditions where they desperately need assistance if they are to survive.”

“Returning Christians, Yazidis, and others to their rightful place will reknit the once rich tapestry of pluralism and diversity that existed in the region—an effort that is essential to any hope of durable stability in Iraq and the region,” they wrote in a letter dated Oct. 12.

USAID did not immediately return an inquiry about the letter.

Fortenberry, Aderholt, and Smith are longtime human rights champions. Eshoo has a personal interest in the mission. She is a Chaldean Catholic and first-generation American. Her mother is Armenian and her father is an Assyrian Christian from Iraq.

The letter is the latest effort by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate, along with human rights activists and Catholic groups, to persuade the State Department and USAID to change the Obama-era policy of directing most of its money to Iraq through the United Nations.

The lawmakers argue that Catholic charities most connected to the communities on the ground are the only groups that have a track record of helping persecuted minorities survive for the last several years and are best positioned to help them return and rebuild. The United Nations, they argue, has little to show for its assistance to these communities.

As the Washington Free Beacon reported earlier this month, photos of the few United Nations Development Program projects in Ninevah show the work being done is mostly cosmetic in nature. This contradicts claims for the United Nations, which has suggested far more substantial work has been done.

Steve Rasche, an attorney for the Catholic archdiocese of Northern Iraq testified before a House hearing that so-called “completed” school-rehabilitation projects in the towns of Teleskov and Batnaya “take the form of one think coat of painting of the exterior surface walls, with freshly stenciled UNICEF logos every 30 feet.”

Inside, he said, the rooms remain untouched and unusable.

U.S. agencies have a responsibility to intervene more directly and effectively, the lawmakers argue, especially after both the Obama and Trump administrations have declared that Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in Iraq are the victims of ISIS genocide.

“USAID has an immediate opportunity to partner with entities committee to the appropriate reconstruction of damaged homes and public buildings in several key towns in the Ninevah Plan of Iraq,” they wrote.

“Timely action would address provisions outlined in the genocide declarations and mirror the current administration’s desire to help the survivors,” they argued.

As ISIS is driven from Iraq, it is also critical to U.S. national security that that these indigenous communities are supported to prevent Iran from gaining influence in the region.

“Repatriation has a strategic advantage of heading off potential conflict between the KRG and Baghdad while barring an Iranian land bridge to the Mediterranean, which presently threats to fill the vacuum in the Ninevah Plain created by the removal of ISIS,” the lawmakers wrote. “This land bridge will be occupied by forces loyal to Tehran if security and rebuilding fails to come from other quarters.”

Congress has taken a number of steps to try to provide direct assistance to the minority populations in Iraq. Earlier this year, Congress allocated more than $1.4 billion in funds for refugee assistance and included specific language to ensure that part of the money would be used to assist Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in Iraq.

The House passed legislation, cosponsored by Smith and Eshoo, that would explicitly authorize the State Department and USAID to direct aid to faith-based entities, such as the Archdiocese of Erbil following congressional delegations to the region.

More recently, the House and Senate have held hearings about the need for the Trump administration to act quickly to get the funds where they are needed.

“We implore you to review proposals from credible organizations on the ground in the region who are committed to these goals, and if deemed worthy, to move swiftly to empower the through available resources to rebuild the region,” they lawmakers wrote.

Trump cuts Obama’s refugee target in half, takes more Christians than Muslims

September 27, 2017

Trump cuts Obama’s refugee target in half, takes more Christians than Muslims, Washington Times,  September 26, 2017

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Nov. 10, 2016. (Associated Press)

President Trump, in just eight months in office, has succeeded in upending U.S. refugee policy, cutting by more than half the 110,000-refugee target that the Obama administration had bequeathed him and dramatically shifting the demographics of who is accepted.

Gone is President Obama’s overwhelming focus on Muslims, and particularly on Syrians fleeing a civil war that his administration facilitated. Under Mr. Trump, the rate of Syrian refugees has been cut by more than 80 percent, and Christians have overtaken Muslims in total refugees resettled.

“It’s impossible to escape the clear message that there’s a new sheriff in town,” said Matthew O’Brien, research director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for stricter refugee controls.

 The Trump changes have reverberated around the globe, with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees drastically cutting the number of refugee candidates it submits to the U.S.

After recommending nearly 35,000 refugee candidates last year, the UNHCR submitted just 3,591 applications from January to July.

Refugee advocates say the U.S. is relinquishing its global leadership and moral standing and have challenged parts of the administration’s policy in the courts, pushing the country to move back toward the goals set by Mr. Obama.

The previous president called for up to 110,000 refugees to be admitted to the U.S. in 2017 and indicated that he wanted Syrians to be a large part of that, with the country on pace for more than 15,000 resettlements this year.

But Mr. Trump, as part of his first “extreme vetting” travel ban executive order, changed all that. He called for cutting the refugee cap from 110,000 to 50,000 and placed a four-month pause on the refugee program and a more lasting ban on Syrians.

Resistance by the courts, immigrant rights activists and Democrats on Capitol Hill dented those plans, but at the end of the fiscal year, it’s clear that the president mostly got his way.

As of Tuesday afternoon, with four days left in the fiscal year, the government had admitted slightly more than 53,000 refugees — less than half of Mr. Obama’s goal but slightly more than Mr. Trump wanted.

Perhaps the bigger impact was within the demographic breakdown, where Muslims dropped from nearly half of refugees under Mr. Obama to slightly more than a third. Christians, meanwhile, went from 43 percent to 53 percent under Mr. Trump.

Syrians, who represented a stunning 15 percent of all refugees under Mr. Obama, dropped to just 8 percent under Mr. Trump.

The State Department didn’t respond to an inquiry from The Times for this article.

Officials at the department are rushing to put together a recommendation for a refugee cap for fiscal year 2018, which begins Sunday.

Under the law, the administration is able to set an overall cap each year. It was set at 80,000 for the end of the Bush administration and beginning of the Obama administration, dropped to 70,000 in 2013, rose to 85,000 in 2016 and then to 110,000 this year.

Mr. Trump proposed cutting this year’s number to 50,000 and came close to fulfilling that, likely ending up just a few thousand over.

Courts had intervened, saying Mr. Trump couldn’t stop the arrival of refugees who had “close” ties to American entities, exempting them from his 50,000 cap.

The president is expected to suggest an even smaller refugee cap for 2018, analysts said. Several reports Tuesday put the figure at 45,000. The administration must conduct official consultations with Congress this week before finalizing the number.

Rep. Randy Hultgren, Illinois Republican and co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, said he was disappointed by the low figure.

“I believe we can balance both compassion and security and remain the world’s shining city on a hill,” he said in a statement, adding that he believed the U.S. should “trust our long-standing and rigorous vetting system” to weed out dangers while allowing the pipeline of refugees to flow.

Top Democrats, meanwhile, prodded the White House Wednesday over reports that it nixed a study that would have shown refugees were a net plus for the U.S. economy.

“It appears that the Trump Administration may have rejected these facts in order to present a biased, incomplete, and ultimately false political narrative,” the Democrats wrote in a letter demanding documents.

Advocates say the U.S. puts refugees through stricter screening than any other category of visitor or immigrant to the U.S. and that fears of terrorists using the program to exploit weaknesses are overblown.

But security analysts say countries such as Syria are so broken that the U.S. doesn’t have access to databases or on-the-ground information to vet the stories of would-be refugees.

Mr. O’Brien said his group doesn’t oppose refugees, which he said are part of America’s moral obligation. But he said the government simply can’t vet all cases.

“In those situations in the past, the default position has been to look to the interests of the refugee. I think after Sept. 11 that is an impossible circumstance,” he said. “There are some people where it’s just not going to be possible.”

Mr. O’Brien said Mr. Trump is flexing the powers that the law grants the president, learning that he doesn’t have to work through Congress to make major changes.

Even as some in the U.S. protest Mr. Trump’s changes, the rest of the world is adjusting.

The UNHCR — which screens and recommends to the U.S. potential refugees from some of the world’s hot spots — has drastically slowed the pipeline.

The number of Syrians submitted to the U.S. for resettlement screening is down more than 80 percent so far this year. Similar drops were recorded for Somalia, Iran and Afghanistan. Iraq had an even bigger drop in submission rate by the UNHCR.

Critics: State Department Delaying Aid Congress Provided to Yazidis, Christians in Iraq

September 25, 2017

Critics: State Department Delaying Aid Congress Provided to Yazidis, Christians in Iraq, Washington Free Beacon , September 25, 2017

Iraqis Yazidis dance during a ceremony celebrating the Yazidi New Year north east of Mosul / Getty Images

Human rights activists and Catholic groups are questioning why the State Department still appears reluctant to direct money Congress appropriated to assist Christians, Yazidis, and other persecuted religious minorities in Iraq but this week quickly dispatched $32 million to help a majority Muslim group fleeing violence in Burma.

The State Department on Thursday announced it would provide a humanitarian aid package worth nearly $32 million to the Rohingya, a persecuted minority group in Burma. More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled Burma, a majority Buddhist nation, for Bangladesh over the past month to escape wide-scale violence that the United Nations’ top human rights official has labeled ethnic cleansing.

The aid package came the day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Burma, and urged the Burmese government and military to “address deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations.”

Tillerson’s quick efforts to help the Rohingya demonstrated the State Department’s ability to quickly direct humanitarian aid to a threatened minority group. However, critics say the swift action stands in sharp contrast to State’s foot-dragging when it comes to directing funds to Yazidis, Christians, and other religious minorities facing genocide in Iraq.

Earlier this year, Congress allocated more than $1.4 billion in funds for refugee assistance and included specific language to ensure that part of the money would be used to assist Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims—all groups the State Department deemed victims of genocide in 2016. Over the summer, Tillerson affirmed his belief that these religious minority groups in Iraq are the victims of Islamic-State genocide.

Lawmakers who passed the bills providing the funds, as well as human rights activists and Catholic charities, were encouraged by Tillerson’s affirmation of the genocide declaration, but they say his statements have done nothing to change the situation on the ground. The Yazidis and Christians are still not getting the necessary money to help them rebuild their lives and communities in the Northern Iraq’s Ninevah province, where they have thrived for thousands of years.

The Knights of Columbus, a global Catholic charity that has spent years on the ground housing and feeding thousands of Yazidis and Christians ground, said a much larger rebuilding plan is needed to save them extinction from Iraq. Congress has already responded by allocating funds, but the State Department is preventing them from getting directly to the communities in Iraq, according to GOP lawmakers and human rights activists.

ISIS murders and kidnappings, as well as efforts to flee this persecution, have radically reduced the Yazidi and Christian population in Iraq. Christians, which numbered between 800,000 to 1.4 million in 2002, number fewer than 250,000 now. Without action, these lawmakers and activists warn, Christians could soon disappear completely from Iraq.

The Yazidi population also has plummeted, although estimates of how far the population has fallen vary wildly, ranging from the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands since ISIS launched its attack in the Sinjar region of Iraq in 2014.

Despite the congressional commitment, lawmakers and human rights activists say most of the U.S. taxpayer money going to help people in Iraq is channeled through the United Nations, which has a “religion-blind” policy of distributing most of the money to refugee camps that Yazidis and Christians avoid out of fear of further violence and persecution.

“It is always good when people who are in danger are helped. But why is there a terrible disparity between our government’s treatment of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma and the absolute lack of help for Yazidis and Christians in Iraq, whom Secretary Tillerson declared last month to be victims of genocide?” asked Nina Shea, an international human rights lawyer who directs the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom.

“In Iraq, we should be helping people who are victims of genocide, but our government is not,” she said. “We should be caring for religious minorities. But our government is not. We should be concerned about religious freedom. But our government is not.”

Shea, who spent 12 years as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said the dearth of U.S. taxpayer resources getting to these communities is incredibly frustrating, considering the direct national security interests of rebuilding those communities. Displaced Christians specifically could help play a stabilizing role in the Ninevah Plain area of Iraq if they have enough infrastructure and support to rebuild their homes and communities, she said.

If they had the resources, they also could combat Iran’s colonization of northern Iraq, where pro-Iranian militias are illegally buying up Christian-owned property in the area to try to broaden their influence, she said.

“Right now, Iran is using the Ninevah province as a land bridge to Syria and the Mediterranean and that is a threat to our interests and Israel’s interests,” she said.

The State Department’s inaction continues despite President Trump’s promise to do everything in his power to defend and protect “historic Christian communities of the Middle East.” Trump made the pledge after meeting with Pope Francis and again in the wake of the ISIS attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt in late May.

A State Department official did not respond directly to questions about why the money is not getting to Yazidis and Christians despite the genocide declaration. Instead, the officials stressed that the U.S. government is the largest single donor to the Iraq and Syria humanitarian crises, having contributed $1.7 billion since fiscal year 2014.

“The United States closely monitors the needs of all vulnerable, displaced and conflict-affected populations, including members of religious and ethnic minorities and has taken extraordinary measures to aid imperiled civilians,” the official said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon.

“Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief is fundamental to the United States and who we are. The United States remains committed to ensuring the protection of religious freedoms for all,” the official added.

Congressional aides dispute any suggestion that the United States is committed to ensuring that Yazidis and Christians communities remain in Iraq.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill and human rights activists are tracking the list of U.N. development projects in Iraq closely and said there are only very minor projects in Christian towns and communities, such as one that would repair a canopy on a municipal building and no major infrastructure or road projects that would help Christian communities return and provide interim jobs for those returning.

The Iranians, in contrast, just opened a new elementary school, mosque, and library in the Ninevah region, she said.

The continued push to get the funds to Yazidis and Christians on the ground comes the same week that the U.N. Security Council created an investigative team aiming to hold ISIS accountable for war crimes and genocide in Iraq.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the resolution creating the team a “landmark” development. “It is a major step towards addressing the death, suffering, and injury of the victims of crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq—crimes that include genocide. These victims have been Yazidis, Christians, Shia and Sunni Muslims, and many, many more.”

Shea and other activists consider the resolution a good first step but argue it is critically important that Yazidi and Christian leaders are appointed to help lead the investigative team aiming to hold ISIS accountable for war crimes and genocide in Iraq.

According to a Security Council resolution calling on the U.N. secretary-general to create the investigative team, its mission would be to collect, preserve and store evidence of ISIS war crimes and genocide.

Liberal Democrats ignore persecution of Christians outside the U.S.

February 11, 2017

Liberal Democrats ignore persecution of Christians outside the U.S., Washington Times

christiansintroubleDozens of Coptic Christians were killed in a December bombing at St. Mark Cathedral in central Cairo. Each month, about 322 Christians are killed, 214 churches or Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 acts of violence are carried out. . . .

 

“I think the case could be made that Donald Trump did more in one afternoon than President Obama did over the last six years.”

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Advocates who work to protect persecuted groups say there is a “blind spot” in the West concerning the plight faced by Christians around the world — a shortsightedness evident in the overwhelmingly negative reaction to President Trump’s executive order granting preferred refugee status to persecuted religious minorities.

From the Coptics in Egypt and the “house churches” in China to the “subversives” in North Korea and the “apostates” in Pakistan, Christians are under fire on the international stage.

Paul Coleman, deputy director of the Alliance Defending Freedom International, said the international persecution of Christians is unrivaled.

“No person or group should live in fear of being killed, tortured or oppressed because of their religious beliefs,” Mr. Coleman said in a statement. “By all accounts Christians are the most persecuted group on the planet.”

Each month, about 322 Christians are killed, 214 churches or Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 acts of violence are carried out on Christians because of their faith, according to Open Doors, a nonprofit group that helps persecuted Christians.

Andrew Doran, vice president of In Defense of Christians, said their cries for help often fall on deaf ears in Europe and the United States because Christianity is the dominant faith in an increasingly secular culture.

Mr. Doran pointed to the Obama administration’s lethargic response to the Islamic State’s Christian genocide, saying people who see Christians as domestic enemies have trouble shifting gears when atrocities are committed against the faith group on the global stage.

“Christians in the West have been somehow identified as the oppressor class, and that view seems to be extended to Christians in the Middle East,” he said. “But the fact is that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Mr. Doran said that “blind spot” was evident in the reaction to Mr. Trump’s executive order, which temporarily suspended refugee flows until proper security measures could be implemented, but made exceptions for religious minorities who are persecuted.“Whether someone is Muslim, Yazidi, Jewish, Christian or atheist, they should be given priority if they’re facing persecution, and certainly that would be so where there’s a finding of genocide,”

“Whether someone is Muslim, Yazidi, Jewish, Christian or atheist, they should be given priority if they’re facing persecution, and certainly that would be so where there’s a finding of genocide,” Mr. Doran said.

But Larry T. Decker, executive director of the Secular Coalition, said the policy is tantamount to a “religious test” for entry to the country.

“President Trump’s executive order must be recognized as the establishment of a religious test that is incompatible with our Constitution and our values as Americans,” Mr. Decker said in a statement. “The Trump campaign repeatedly denigrated Muslims and pledged to enact policies that discriminated against them. Now, at the expense of our First Amendment and our nation’s credibility, the Trump administration is attempting to make good on this campaign promise.”

Polls support the notion that some segments of the West are ignorant of the persecution faced by Christians around the world.

A Rasmussen survey published Tuesday showed that the majority of Democrats believe Muslims in the United States are mistreated because of their faith, but fewer were willing to say the same for Christians in the Islamic world.

While 56 percent of Democrats said Muslims in America are mistreated because of their faith, that number fell to 47 percent for Christians living in Islamic nations. Sixty-two percent of Americans overall, and 76 percent of Republicans, said Christians are persecuted in countries where Islam is the dominant religion.

Last year, former Secretary of State John F. Kerry declared that Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East are victims of genocide carried out by the Islamic State.

But advocates had been calling for that recognition for years, Mr. Doran said, and the Obama administration failed to take any additional steps to alleviate the plight of Christians.

More than 19,000 refugees from Syria were admitted to the United States during Mr. Obama’s tenure, but less than one-half of 1 percent of them were Christians.

Mr. Trump has said the United States will do more to alleviate the suffering of Christians in the Middle East.

“They’ve been horribly treated,” Mr. Trump said last month in an interview. “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.”

Mr. Doran said the president’s call for the establishment of safe zones in Syria and Yemen is an “excellent idea” and that they also should be considered in Iraq.

“If he succeeds in creating safe zones, that will have be a substantial step toward bringing the Syrian conflict to a conclusion, putting pressure on the Assad regime to cease hostilities and come to the negotiating table,” Mr. Doran said. “I think these are actually very positive steps.”

He said Mr. Trump’s early actions to protect the victims of persecution and bring the Syrian refugee crisis to an end represent a seismic shift from his predecessor’s policy.

“I think the case could be made that Donald Trump did more in one afternoon than President Obama did over the last six years.”

 

Yazidis to Anti-Trumpers: Where Were You During Islamic State Genocide Against Us?

February 9, 2017

Yazidis to Anti-Trumpers: Where Were You During Islamic State Genocide Against Us? BreitbartEdwin Mora, February 8, 2017

(But, but . . . since the Islamists are doing the persecuting, they should get the first chance to come to America. Giving priority — or even allowing entry —  to those whom they persecute would just make matters worse: they might be persecuted where we can see it, which would cause Islamophobia, a far worse evil than persecution of weird people like Yazidis, Christians and the few remaining Jews. At least that seems to be the logic — if any —  behind the complaints. — DM)  

yazidi-women-reutersrodi-said-640x480REUTERS/Rodi Said

Outrage over President Donald Trump’s executive order prioritizing refugee claims by persecuted religious minorities has puzzled activists from Iraq’s Yazidi community, who note the lack of major protests against the brutal massacre of thousands of Yazidis and Christians by the Islamic State.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration and the United Nations recognized that Yazidis, Christians, and other ethnoreligious minorities in the Middle East have been victims of genocide at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

Nevertheless, opponents of the executive order (EO) have lambasted the religious minority exception, denouncing President Trump for giving preferential treatment to persecuted minority groups. The order bars the entry into the United States of visa travelers from seven terrorism-linked countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen) for at least 90 days and orders the U.S. government to prioritize refugee claims by persecuted religious minorities.

The order, which has sparked protests and outcry across the nation, does not identify religious minority groups by name. However, Michael Short, a White House spokesman, told Breitbart News,“Yazidis would be covered under the EO as they are a persecuted religious minority.”

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart in Seattle has issued a ruling that temporarily blocks Trump’s order, which the Trump administration argues is primarily intended to strengthen U.S. national security.

Breitbart News spoke to several Yazidi activists who expressed support for the executive order and argued that it does not amount to a Muslim ban, as critics argue.

Echoing Iraqi Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda, Mizra Ismail — a Yazidi activist with the Yazidi Human Rights Organization-International — told Breitbart News, referring to opponents of Trump’s executive order:

My first question for those protesters is: where were they when ISIS was committing genocide against the Yezidis and Christians in Iraq and Syria? ISIS killed and kidnapped thousands of Yezidis, mostly young women, girls and children. The ISIS jihadists also beheaded many Yezidis and Christians openly in the most brutal way and posted their videos on social media.

What were those protesters doing then? I believe when ISIS committed all those crimes against the Yezidis and Christians, those protesters were blind.

Another Yazidi activist expressed support for Trump’s order, saying it is necessary to keep the U.S. safe.

“As a Yezidi, I am supportive of any genuine effort and precaution meant to keep this country safe and prosperous,” Gulie Khalaf from Yezidis International, told Breitbart News. “If a 90-day ban on all refugees, including Yezidis, is what it will take to ensure that this country does not become full of residents who neither care for the values of this society nor its constitution, then let us have the 90-day ban. Hopefully, that time will be spent to figure out who is deserving of the opportunities and the rights this country offers.”

The activist argued that the persecuted minority exception is necessary and does not subject Muslims to “discrimination” as many opponents of the order have claimed.

“It is not breaking laws or going against any kind of values if Trump and his administration decide that endangered groups should be an exception to the ban,” declared Khalaf.

A different Yazidi activist, Haji Hameka, stressed that the executive order is not a Muslim ban but rather an effort to keep America safe.

“It is not a ban against bringing Muslim refugees to the United States. It is a security check to avoid the entry of terrorists from groups such as al-Qaeda, and ISIS,” he told Breitbart News.

“Trump is a real American Patriot who is putting America and Americans first,” noted the activist. “He has to protect, support, and save the United States. He was elected by Americans to put America first.”

Trump’s measure dictates that once refugee admissions resume after a 120-day suspension aimed at improving the vetting process, the U.S. government, “to the extent permitted by law,” is expected to “prioritize claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”

In other words, persecuted minorities in Iraq in Syria, such as the Christians and Yazidis, may go to the front of the line after the refugee program suspension is over.

During the 120-day suspension, the Secretaries of the State and Homeland Security have the discretion “on a case-by-case basis” to allow the entry of members of persecuted religious minority groups.

“Identifying specific countries with Muslim majorities and carving out exceptions for minority religions flies in the face of the constitutional principle that bans the government from either favoring or discriminating against particular religions,” argued American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero in a statement.

The Trump administration and Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), have defended the religious minority exception.

Meanwhile, Democrats like Sen. Diane Feinstein from California have denounced the directive, arguing that granting priority to persecuted minorities is unfair to Muslims.

Raymond Ibrahim: How Trump Can Help Persecuted Christians and Protect Americans with One Move

February 6, 2017

Raymond Ibrahim: How Trump Can Help Persecuted Christians and Protect Americans with One Move, Jihad Watch

copts-in-ruined-church

During a recent interview on CBN, President Trump was asked if he thinks America should prioritize persecuted Christians as refugees. He responded:

Yes.  Yes, they’ve been horribly treated.  If you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, or at least very, 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.

 Trump’s response is far different from that given by Barrack Hussein Obama back in November 2015. Then, as president, he described the idea of giving preference to Christian refugees as “shameful”: “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,” he had added.

While Obama was making such lofty admonishments, his administration was quietly discriminating against Mideast Christians in a myriad of ways — including, as Trump pointed out above, by very obviously favoring Muslim refugees over Christian ones. Indeed, despite the U.S. government’s own acknowledgement that ISIS was committing genocide against Syrian Christians — and not against fellow Sunni Muslims — the Obama administration took in 5,435 Muslims, almost all of whom were Sunni, but only 28 Christians. Considering that Christians are 10 percent of Syria’s population, to be merely on an equal ratio with Muslims entering America, at least 500 Christians should’ve been granted asylum, not 28.

But questions of equal numbers aside, the idea of prioritizing Christian refugees over Muslims (which I argued for back in 2015) is not only more humane; it brings benefits to America as well.

Consider:

Unlike Muslims, Christian minorities are being singled out and persecuted simply because of their despised religious identity. From a humanitarian point of view — and humanitarianism is the reason being cited for accepting millions of refugees — Christians should receive top priority simply because they are the most persecuted group in the Middle East. Even before the Islamic State was formed, Christians were, and continue to be, targeted by Muslims in general — Muslim individuals, Muslim mobs, and Muslim regimes, from Muslim countries of all races (Arab, African, Asian) — and for the same reason: Christians are infidel number one. (See Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians for hundreds of anecdotes before the rise of ISIS as well as the Muslim doctrines that create such hate for Christians.)

Conversely, Muslim refugees — as opposed to the many ISIS and other jihadi sympathizers posing as “refugees” — are not fleeing religious persecution (as mentioned, 99% of Muslim refugees accepted into the U.S. are, like ISIS, Sunnis), but chaos created by the violent and supremacist teachings of their own religion. Hence why when large numbers of Muslims enter Western nations — in Germany, Sweden, France, the UK — tension, crimes, rapes, and terrorism soar.

Indeed, what more proof is needed than the fact that so-called Muslim “refugees” are throwing Christians overboard during their boat voyages across the Mediterranean to Europe? Or that Muslim majority refugee centers in Europe are essentially microcosms of Muslim majority nations: there, Christian minorities continue to be persecuted. One report found that 88% of the 231 Christian refugees interviewed in Germany have suffered religiously motivated persecution in the form of insults, death threats, and sexual assaults. Some were pressured to convert to Islam. “I really didn’t know that after coming to Germany I would be harassed because of my faith in the very same way as back in Iran,” one Christian refugee said.

Is persecuting religious minorities the behavior of people who are in need of refugee status in America? Or is this behavior yet another reminder that it is non-Muslims from the Middle East who are truly in need of sanctuary?

The U.S. should further prioritize Christian refugees because U.S. foreign policies are directly responsible for exacerbating their persecution. Christians did not flee from Bashar Assad’s Syria, or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya. Their systematic persecution—to the point of genocide — began only after the U.S. interfered in those nations under the pretext of “democracy.” All that these policies did is unleash the jihadi forces that the dictators had long kept suppressed. Now the Islamic State is deeply embedded in precisely all three nations, enslaving, raping, and slaughtering Christians and other minorities.

Surely if U.S. policies were responsible for unleashing the full-blown jihad on Christians, the least humanitarian America can do is prioritize Christians as refugees? In fact, and as Trump pointed out during his CBN interview, it’s the opposite: according to one report, from May 1 to May 23 alone, 499 Syrian refugees were received into the U.S, 99% of them Sunnis. Zero Christians were admitted.

Questions of fairness and humanitarianism aside, there are also benefits in absorbing Mideast Christians refugees instead of Muslims. Christians are easily assimilated in Western societies, due to the shared Christian heritage and outlook, and regularly become productive members of society. Muslims follow a completely different blueprint, Islamic law, or Sharia — which calls for constant hostility (jihad) against all non-Muslims, and advocates any number of distinctly anti-Western practices (misogyny, sex slavery, death for “blasphemers” and “apostates,” etc.). Hence it’s no surprise that many Muslim asylum seekers are anti-Western at heart — or, as a German police union chief once said, Muslim migrants “despise our country and laugh at our justice.”

Mideast Christians also bring trustworthy language and cultural skills. They understand the Middle Eastern — including Islamic — mindset and can help the U.S. understand it. And unlike Muslims, Christians have no “conflicting loyalty” issues: Islamic law forbids Muslims from befriending or aiding “infidels” against fellow Muslims (click here to see some of the treachery this leads to in the U.S. and here to see the treachery Christians have suffered from their longtime Muslim neighbors and “friends”). No such threat exists among Mideast Christians. They, too, render unto God what is God’s and unto Caesar what is Caesar’s — not to mention they have no loyalty to the Islamic ideologies that made their lives a living hell in the Middle East, the Islamic ideologies that are also responsible for jihadi terror in America. Thus a win-win: the U.S. and Mideast Christians complement each other, if only in that they share the same foe.

All the above reasons — from those that offer humanitarian relief to the true victims of persecution and genocide, to those that offer stability and benefits to the United States — are unassailable in their logic.

President Trump understands this — even if most liberals and lying media don’t.

The Lessons of Roosevelt’s Failures

February 1, 2017

The Lessons of Roosevelt’s Failures, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, February 1, 2017

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Is US President Donald Trump the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Does his immigration policy mimic Roosevelt’s by adopting a callous, bigoted position on would-be asylum seekers from the Muslim world? At a press conference on June 5, 1940, Roosevelt gave an unspeakably cynical justification for his administration’s refusal to permit the desperate Jews of Nazi Germany to enter the US.

In Roosevelt’s words, “Among the refugees [from Germany], there are some spies… And not all of them are voluntary spies – it is rather a horrible story but in some of the other countries that refugees out of Germany have gone to, especially Jewish refugees, they found a number of definitely proven spies.”

The current media and left-wing uproar over the executive order US President Donald Trump signed on Saturday which enacts a temporary ban on entry to the US of nationals from seven Muslim majority countries is extraordinary on many levels. But one that stands out is the fact that opponents of Trump’s move insist that Trump is reenacting the bigoted immigration policies the US maintained throughout the Holocaust.

The first thing that is important to understand about Trump’s order is that it did not come out of nowhere. It is based on the policies of his predecessor Barack Obama. Trump’s move is an attempt to correct the strategic and moral deficiencies of Obama’s policies – deficiencies that empower bigots and fascists while disenfranchising and imperiling their victims.

Trump’s order is based on the 2015 Terrorist Travel Prevention Act. As White House spokesman Sean Spicer noted in an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz Sunday, the seven states targeted by Trump’s temporary ban – Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Iran, Libya, Yemen and Somalia – were not chosen by Trump.

They were identified as uniquely problematic and in need of specific, harsher vetting policies for refugee applications by former US president Barack Obama.

In Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, the recognized governments lack control over large swaths of territory.

As a consequence, they are unable to conclude immigration vetting protocols with the US. As others have noted, unlike these governments, Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Egyptian officials have concluded and implement severe and detailed visa vetting protocols with US immigration officials.

Immigrants from Somalia have carried out terrorist attacks in the US. Clearly there is a problem with vetting procedures in relation to that jihad-plagued failed state.

Finally, the regimes in Sudan and Iran are state sponsors of terrorism. As such, the regimes clearly cannot be trusted to properly report the status of visa applicants.

In other words, the one thing that the seven states have in common is that the US has no official counterpart in any of them as it seeks to vet nationals from those states seeking to enter its territory. So the US must adopt specific, unilateral vetting policies for each of them.

Now that we know the reason the Obama administration concluded that visa applicants from these seven states require specific vetting, we arrive at the question of whether Trump’s order will improve the outcome of that vetting from both a strategic and moral perspective.

The new executive order requires the relevant federal agencies and departments to review the current immigration practices in order to ensure two things.

First, that immigrants from these and other states are not enemies of the US. And second, to ensure that those that do enter the US are people who need protection.

Trump’s order requires the secretary of state and the secretary of homeland security to ensure that the new vetting processes “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority in the individual’s country of nationality.”

Under the Obama administration, the opposite occurred. Christians and Yazidis in Syria for instance, have been targeted specifically for annihilation by Islamic State and related groups. And yet, they have made up a tiny minority of visa recipients. According to Christian News Service, during 2016, the number of refugees from Syria to the US increased by 675%. But among the 13,210 Syrian refugees admitted to the US, only 77, or 0.5% were Christians and only 24, or 0.18%, were Yazidis.

Similar percentages held in previous years.

On the second issue, of blocking potential terrorists from entering the US, Trump’s order calls for measures to be taken to ensure that those who ascribe to creeds that would endanger the lives of US citizens are barred from entering.

Specifically, the order states, “The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including ‘honor’ killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”

Whether or not the Obama administration’s failure to give top priority to Christian and Yazidi refugees being targeted for genocide, enslavement and rape was driven by political considerations, the fact is that the current US refugee system makes it all but impossible for US officials to give priority to vulnerable minorities.

As Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom pointed out in an article in National Review in November 2015, the US has relied on the UN High Commissioner on Refugees to vet potential immigrants from these countries. The UNHCR accepts applications for resettlement primarily from people who reside in its refugee camps. Members of the Christian and Yazidi avoid UN camps because UN officials do not protect them.

As Shea noted, human rights groups and media reports have shown that at UN camps, “ISIS, militias and gangs traffic in women and threaten men who refuse to swear allegiance to the caliphate.”

The situation repeats itself in European refugee centers. Shea noted that in Germany, for instance, due to Muslim persecution of non-Muslim refugees at refugee centers, “the German police union recommended separate shelters for Christian and Muslim groups.”

The UNHCR itself has not been an innocent bystander in all of this. To the contrary. It appears that the institution colludes with jihadists to keep persecuted Christians and other minorities out of the UN refugee system, thus dooming them to remain in areas were they are subjected to forms of persecution unseen since the Holocaust.

Questioned by Shea, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said that he opposes the resettlement of persecuted Christians from Syria. Despite the fact that in 2011 Pope Francis acknowledged that Syrian Christians were being targeted for genocide, Guterres told Shea that he doesn’t want Christians to leave Syria, because they are part of the “DNA of the Middle East.” He added that Lebanon’s former president asked him not to resettle the Christians.

Invoking the Holocaust, in recent days US Jews have been among the most outspoken critics of Trump’s executive order. Speaking to Britain’s Independent, for instance, Mark Hetfield, the executive director of HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, slammed Trump’s executive order as the “lowest point we’ve seen since the 1920s.”

Forward editor Jane Eisner wrote that Trump’s move is immoral and un-American and that all Jewish organizations are morally required to stand up to his “anti-Muslim” policies.

Writing at Vox.com, Dara Lind drew a direct connection between Trump’s executive order and the Roosevelt administration’s refusal to permit the Jews of Europe to flee to the US to escape annihilation in the Holocaust.

This then brings us back to Roosevelt’s immoral policies toward the Jews of Europe and to the question of who has learned the lessons of his bigotry.

The American Jewish uproar at Trump’s actions shows first and foremost the cynicism of the leftist Jewish leadership.

It isn’t simply that left-wing activists like Hetfield and Eisner cynically ignore that Trump’s order is based on Obama’s policies, which they didn’t oppose.

It is that in their expressed concerned for would-be Muslim refugees to the US they refuse to recognize that the plight of Muslims as Muslims in places like Syria and Iraq is not the same as the plight of Christians and Yazidis as Christians and Yazidis in these lands.

The “Jews” in the present circumstances are not the Muslims, who are nowhere targeted for genocide.

The “Jews” in the present circumstances are the Christians and Yazidis and other religious minorities, whom Trump’s impassioned Jewish opponents and Obama’s impassioned Jewish champions fail to defend.

Trump’s executive order is far from perfect. But in making the distinction between the hunters and the hunted and siding with the latter against the former, Trump is showing that he is not a bigot.

Unlike his critics, he has learned the lessons of Roosevelt’s moral failure and is working to ensure that the US acts differently today.