McCain on Prioritizing Refugee Claims of Persecuted Religious Minorities: ‘Protect Every Innocent Citizen’

Lauretta Brown | February 1, 2017 | 12:06pm EST
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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) (AP Photo)

( – When  asked on Tuesday whether he agreed with the provision in President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration calling for the U.S. to prioritize the refugee claims of persecuted religious minorties, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did not answer directly but said "we should do everything we can to protect every innocent citizen." asked, “President Trump’s order on protecting the U.S. from foreign terrorists calls for prioritizing the refugee claims of persecuted religious minorities. Do you agree that the U.S. should prioritize refugee admissions for persecuted religious minorities?”

McCain responded: “I think that we should do everything we can to protect every innocent citizen and there is the reality that the Christians are subject to great persecution and we need to protect them as well as everyone else though but their problem is very serious obviously.”

President Trump’s Executive Order states, “The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee 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. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.”

Secretary of State John Kerry recognized that Christians in the Middle East were facing genocide at the hands of ISIS and the need for U.S. assistance in March.

McCain released a joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Friday, criticizing President Trump’s executive order in which they wrote that “ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.”

“At this very moment,” they wrote, “American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred.”

“This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country,” they concluded. “That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”

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