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

Penny Starr | January 31, 2017 | 2:36pm EST
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House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that the United States should not give priority to the refugee claims of persecuted religious minorities.

Doing so is one element of the execuitive order that President Donald Trump issued Friday to protect the United States from entry by foreign terrorists.

At his weekly Capitol Hill press briefing, CNSNews.com asked Hoyer: “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?”

“No,” Hoyer said. “I think the criteria should not be religion.”

“The criteria ought to be whether or not somebody is legitimately a refugee and to get that status you know you have to go through the U.N. first and then a long group of steps, and then the determination ought to be made on once refugee – that the admission of that person will cause no danger to the people of the United States or the United States itself,” Hoyer said.

“That ought to be the only criteria,” Hoyer said.

Trump’s order – Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States – states, in part: “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 House of Representatives passed Concurrent Resolution 121 last year condemning the genocide being perpetrated by the Islamic State against Christians, Yezidis and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.

At a press conference on March 17, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that Christians were being targeted for genocide in Syria.

“My purpose here today is to assert in my judgment, (ISIS) is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims," Kerry said.

Kerry said that in 2014, ISIS trapped Yazidis, killed them, enslaved thousands of Yazidi women and girls, "selling them at auction, raping them at will and destroying the communities in which they had lived for countless generations," executed Christians "solely for their faith" and also "forced Christian women and girls into slavery."

"Without our intervention, it is clear that those people would have been slaughtered," he said.

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