Rep. Jayapal: U.S. Should Not Give Priority to Refugee Claims of Persecuted Religious Minorities

Lauretta Brown | February 1, 2017 | 3:49pm EST
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Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)  (AP) 


( – Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told that she does not agree with the provision in President Donald Trump's executive order on protecting the U.S. from foreign terrorists that calls for prioritzing the refugee claims of persecuted religious minorities. questioned, Rep. Jayapal, the first Indian-American congresswoman, following a Capitol Hill event protesting President Trump’s executive order. asked her: “There’s a section in President Trump’s executive order calling for the prioritization of refugee claims for persecuted religious minorities, so I wondered if you would agree that those claims should be prioritized?”

Jayapal responded: “No. We have never had a test of a specific religion. We’ve always looked at persecution of all kinds as grounds for entry for asylum and for other purposes. But we’ve never prioritized one group that’s persecuted over another group that’s persecuted, and he has made it very clear that that’s what he’s trying to do and he’s said that over and over again.”

“He’s said over and over again that his intent with these executive orders, and with this one in particular, was to ban Muslims,” Jayapal claimed. “And so the way he has framed it, no, absolutely not, that’s not how we do things in this country.”

Before taking office, President Trump released a statement that called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” at least “until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses.”

“Our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” Trump said in the statement.

However, President Trump clarified on Sunday that his executive order “is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion -- this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

“My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011,” Trump said, “when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.”

Syrian Christian refugees. Congress, the U.S. State Department, and the U.N. have officially declared that

ISIS is committing genocide against Syrian Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities.  (AP) 


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.”

The order does not mention any religion or sect.

President Trump’s order could benefit Middle East Christian refugees fleeing genocide at the hands of ISIS, a genocide that was officially recognized by Secretary of State John Kerry last March, by the U.S. Congress, and by several European governments. 

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