A small group of Iraqi Christians persecuted in their homeland are wondering why they are being deported from the U.S. while the Obama administration is trying its best to justify giving asylum to thousands of Muslim refugees from Syria.
A total of 27 Chaldean Christians who have been driven from their homeland by Al Qaeda and ISIS militants managed to enter the U.S. from Mexico in April and May this year, Fox News reported.
The Chaldeans are trying to join the thriving Iraqi Christian community in and around San Diego, California, but now they face an uncertain future as their applications for religious asylum have been rejected by U.S. authorities allegedly due to "technicalities."
"These are families who were split up because of religious persecution, and now the government – which we love – is preventing them from being reunited," said Fr. Michael Bazzi, of St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral, in El Cajon, California. "We wonder why, for thousands of Muslims, the door is open to America, yet Christians are not allowed to come."
The Chaldeans are among tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of Christians from Iraq and Syria who have been displaced by fighting in their respective countries and persecuted by Al Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIS) and even the Iraqi government, the Fox News report said.
Because they were considered illegal immigrants, the 27 men, women and children were held at the Otay Detention Center in San Diego while their asylum applications were being considered. So far, 22 of them have their asylum applications marked "rejected" and have been ordered out of the U.S. The other five face a similar verdict. However, they remain in the centre as detainees while U.S. authorities look for a country to accept them.
Their supporters are questioning why U.S. immigration authorities are being so hard on the Chaldean Christians whose only "mistake" was their failure to strictly follow the U.S. immigration process. On the other hand, the Obama administration appears determined to fast-track the resettlement of 10,000 mostly Muslim refugees from Syria.
Moreover, supporters said the Chaldean Christians will not be a burden to the U.S. government since they have family members in San Diego willing to take them in. San Diego is home to one of the largest Chaldean populations in the U.S.
Republicans and Christian leaders say persecuted Christians should be afforded extra protection.
"If the particular security threat you are concerned about is jihadist terror, there are no Christian jihadist terrorists," said Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. "But for the purpose of asylum analysis, the question is likelihood of persecution. There is no question that Christians face more persecution in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East than Muslims do. We should acknowledge that Christians are being subjected to genocide and take steps to protect them," he told Fox News.