Obama: Protecting homeland does not mean closing doors to refugees
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President Obama says protecting America's homeland does not mean it must close its borders to refugees.

“We have shown that we can welcome refugees and ensure our security — that there’s no contradiction,” he said Saturday in Malaysia, according to The Washington Post.


“As long as I’m president, we will keep stepping up and ensure America remains, as it has always been, a place where people who in other parts of the world are subject to violence and discrimination have in America a friend and a place of refuge,” Obama said while visiting a refugee center in Kuala Lumpur.

“[Refugee children] are indistinguishable from any child in America,” he added. “The notion that we should somehow be fearful of them, that our politics would somehow leave them to turn our sights away from their plight, is not representative of the best of who we are.”

Obama met with grade-school and teenage refugees while visiting the humanitarian organization, the Post reported.

Obama spoke with children as young as seven while they made handcrafts. He also heard the stories of their migration from persecution and instability in places such as Burma, Somalia and Sudan.

“This is the face of people all over the world who look to the United States as a beacon of hope,” said Obama, who is traveling through Asia until Sunday.

“American leadership is us caring about people who have been forgotten or who have been discriminated against or who’ve been tortured or who’ve been subject to unspeakable violence or who’ve been separated from families at very young ages.”

Obama’s travels through Asia follow his tense standoff with Congress earlier this week over his proposal for resettling Syrian refugees. The controversial initiative aims to accept at least 10,000 displaced Syrians into the U.S. by 2016.

The House voted 298-137 Thursday to pass a bill that would require stricter screening requirements on refugees from Iraq and Syria. 

It would pause implementation of Obama’s refugee resettlement program until it ensures that participants are not terrorists seeking entry into the U.S.

Senate Democrats have vowed to filibuster the measure, and Obama has strongly criticized it as the byproduct of fear-mongering by the GOP’s 2016 presidential field. 

Anxieties over radical Islamic terrorism are running high following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded over 300 others.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has since claimed responsibility for the attacks and threatened additional carnage against the U.S.