A federal judge asked why the Obama administration isn’t admitting more Christian Syrian refugees in the course of an October opinion on a Freedom of Information Act case.
An immigrant rights group is trying to force the Department of Homeland Security to identify a class of designated terror groups, claiming DHS is using the secret designation to unfairly flag people applying to resettle in the United States. DHS says it would compromise investigations into the groups and incentivize immigrants connected to the groups to lie if they learn of the designation.
Judge Daniel Manion brought up Obama’s refugee policy in his opinion concurring with the rest of the court that DHS does not have to turn over the information, saying the “lack” of Syrian Christians admitted as refugees might be linked to the matter.
“I write separately for a second, critical reason, which is my concern about the apparent lack of Syrian Christians as a part of immigrants from that country,” Manion wrote. “It is possible that our case bears a direct link to this enigma.”
The enigma he’s referring to is the fact that less than one half of 1 percent of the 11,000 Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S. in the past year are Christians, although about 10 percent of the Syrian population is Christian. That’s just 56 of the Syrian refugees resettled according to President Obama’s 2015 directive.
“It is well documented that refugees to the United States are not representative of that war-torn area of the world,” Manion wrote, adding: “To date, there has not been a good explanation for this perplexing discrepancy.”
Manion suggests the government might be linking the Christian refugees to Christian militia groups that are flagged in the class of terror groups not publicly identified by DHS. “It is at least possible that incidental affiliation with some Christian militia could lead an immigration officer to deny entry to Syrians on this basis,” he wrote.
He concludes by noting that the FOIA exemption granted by the court stands regardless, but Congress could act to change the exemption law so that such information might be accessible to the public. “Until that time, however, many of us remain in the dark as a humanitarian catastrophe continues.”
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