San Diego’s Mark Arabo, a spokesman for the Iraqi Chaldean Christian community in America, is working to gather congressional support for HR 1568, the Protecting Religious Minorities Persecuted by ISIS Act. The badly needed legislation is intended to make it much easier for Christian groups in Iraq and Syria facing genocidal attacks from Islamic State to apply directly to the U.S. refugee admissions program. Arabo says he’s won promises of strong support from Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, and Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, who represent tens of thousands of Chaldeans who have settled in South County and East County. Arabo expects to eventually have broad bipartisan majorities backing his measure.
But in an era in which President Barack Obama uses executive orders to reshape immigration law — saying deficiencies with the system must be addressed — we hope he uses the same logic on this issue. Arabo says the White House has been helpful with his cause so far and he looks forward to a mid-April meeting with officials there. But Arabo also says that with “a swipe of his pen,” the president could go a long way toward keeping the death toll of ISIS-persecuted religious minorities from going higher than the present 12,500.
In justifying his most sweeping executive order on immigration, Obama said “millions of undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows,” eager to be productive Americans but paralyzed by decades of congressional inaction. He should have as much sympathy for the Christian groups facing annihilation in Iraq and Syria at the hands of the barbarous Islamic State.