Calls grow for Trump to change his mind on Syrian refugees after missile strikes

Emily Shugerman
Donald Trump is under pressure to admit Syrian refugees following air strikes in the country: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump is facing calls to open US borders to Syrian refugees following the cruise missile attack on an air base in their homeland.

His former rival for the US presidency, Hillary Clinton, said that attacking the country without supporting its refugees was hypocritical and counterproductive.

“I hope that [the Trump administration] will recognise that we cannot in one breath speak of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close America's doors to them,” Ms Clinton told a crowd at an event for Annie’s List.

Her call was echoed by Margaret Huang, the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA.

“President Donald Trump said that the attack was prompted by concern for the lives of Syrian civilians, but his administration has shown callous disregard for Syrians attempting to flee for their lives,” she said in a statement. “He must immediately revoke the Muslim travel ban and end restrictions on refugees from Syria fleeing the horrors at home.”

Palestinian writer and activist İyad el-Baghdadi also told The Independent: “The logical position of someone who supports the US strikes on Assad should be to limit his capacity for slaughter, and make him face consequence. Such a position would also mean treating Syrian refugees humanely, and not demonising them, and of course understanding and appreciating why they became refugees.”

Calling it “horrible” and “barbaric”, he said:"It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror."

But activists say that if Mr Trump is serious about helping the Syrian people, he must end his negative rhetoric toward the country's refugees.

Violence between the Assad regime and US-backed rebels has raged since 2011, killing more than 220,000 people and creating more than 4.81 million refugees.

More than a dozen countries — from Canada to Venezuela — have opened their borders to refugees for resettlement.

Mr Trump, however, has accused Syrian refugees of threatening Americans’ safety and criticised the Obama administration for accepting 12,587 Syrian refugees in the last year.

At a campaign event last year, Mr Trump even went as far as to say he would look in the face of refugee children and tell them, “You can’t come.”

He added that they could be a "Trojan horse" for Isis to get into the US.

After winning the presidency, shortly after taking office, he signed an executive order banning all refugees from the United States shortly after his inauguration. The order — and a second, revised version — were both blocked by federal judges for unfairly targeting Muslim immigrants.