Obama warns against equating refugees with terrorism
US President Barack Obama has warned against "slamming the door to refugees" out of a fear of terrorist attacks, in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks.
His comments come following a barrage of pressure from at least 22 Republican-led states, GOP presidential candidates, key members of Congress, and in one case a Democratic governor to suspend a programme to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees on US soil in 2016.
"The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable," Obama said, adding the United States has to "step up and do its part".
"It is very important that we do not close our hearts to the victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism."
Obama also warned against "equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism".
Some Republican presidential candidates have called for only admitting Christian refugees or for limiting immigration in light of the coordinated attacks in Paris last week that were claimed by the so-called Islamic State group.
Obama pointedly called out members of the party, and said they should follow the example of former President George W. Bush in not treating the fight against terrorism as a war on Muslims.
"When I hear folks say that 'maybe, well, we should just admit the Christians and not the Muslims,' I hear political leaders suggesting there would be religious test for which a person fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution - that's shameful," Obama said.
"Many of the refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves, that is what they are fleeing. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values," the US leader added.