President Donald Trump on Friday said that the United States could prioritize the resettlement of Christian refugees over members of other religions.
Trump made the announcement in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network. “They’ve been horribly treated,” Trump told anchor David Brody. “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.”
In response to Brody’s question as to whether the President saw helping persecuted Christians abroad as a “priority,” Trump immediately responded, “Yes.”
His comments came as he was expected to sign an executive order that would ban refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries from coming to the U.S., and would suspend the country’s refugee resettlement program for at least 120 days.
The move is consistent with Trump’s repeated claims during his presidential campaign, where he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S., arguing that terrorists were entering the country by posing as refugees, though there is virtually no evidence of it. He also called for the creation of a Muslim registry for Muslims who are already in the United States.
Of the nearly 85,000 refugees admitted to the United States in fiscal year 2016, 38,901 were Muslims, and 37,521 were Christians, according to a Pew Research report.