President Obama said in an address on national security at the G20 summit in Turkey on Monday the U.S. must “welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety.”
“Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values,” he said.
Obama’s remarks focused on the terrorist attacks that ripped across Paris on Friday, leaving 129 dead and the city in a state of shock. One of the attackers entered France through Greece, accompanying a wave of refugees who have fled Syria, Iraq and other war-torn Middle Eastern countries this year, reigniting concerns that the migrant crisis leaves European countries at risk.
The President sought to distinguish between the small number of radical terrorists, and the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing violence, hunger, and poverty in their home countries.
“Many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves,” Obama said. “That’s what they’re fleeing.”
He acknowledged that vigorous screening and vetting of refugees was essential, but that refugees needed a place to go.
“Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security,” he insisted. “We can and must do both.”