- The Washington Times - Monday, November 16, 2015

President Obama chided American critics Monday over their calls for him to cancel his plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees, saying the U.S. cannot “close our hearts” to the plight of those fleeing violence.

He took particular aim at GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, who said the U.S. should focus its refugee efforts on trying to resettle Christians, who Mr. Bush said were facing particular persecution in the Middle East.

“That’s shameful. That’s not American,” the president said in Turkey, where he was finishing up a two-day summit of the Group of 20 nations.

Mr. Obama said he will press ahead with his plans to take 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, saying it’s a moral obligation and just a fraction of what European nations have committed to.

“We have to, each of us, do our part, and the United States has to step up and do its part,” he said.

Officials said over the weekend that two of those involved in Friday’s Paris terrorist attack came into the European Union as refugees.

Already some governors are under pressure to announce they will not accept Syrian refugees for resettlement in their states, and Republicans on Capitol Hill have said they will try to use the upcoming spending fight to put more restraints on the president’s plans.

Homeland Security officials have said they do not have access to databases back in Syria to vet many of the refugees and verify their background stories to make sure they are who they claim to be. One option floating in Capitol Hill would be to delay the refugee program until those officials can certify their background checks.

But Mr. Obama said that amounted to equating the refugees with terrorists.

“The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife,” he said. “They are parents, they are children, they are orphans.”

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