On Tuesday, at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees at the United Nations, President Obama pleaded for countries help solve the global refugee crisis, which he called a “crisis of epic proportions.”
At the same time that the President implored countries to welcome and assist refugees from around the world, he also made room to criticize those such as Donald Trump who have shared anti-immigrant and anti-refugee messages.
Speaking directly of the refugee crisis and indirectly of Donald Trump, President Obama encouraged empathy and understanding over fear and hatred.
‘This crisis is a test of our common humanity. Whether we give into suspicion and fear and build walls, or whether we see ourselves in another.’
While he spoke generally about the global refugee crisis, Obama also focused on Syria, which has displaced 4.8 million people so far, calling the situation there “unacceptable.” He went on to say that the countries that make up the U.N. have not been as unified as they should be in correcting the problem.
Obama described the refugee crisis as “one of the most urgent tests of our time.” He then told the summit attendees that failure to act would be a “stain on our collective conscience.”
‘Just as failure to act in the past — for example, by turning away Jews fleeing Nazi Germany — is a stain on our collective conscience, I believe history will judge us harshly if we do not rise to this moment.’
President Obama has high hopes for the United States and other countries to take in and aid as many refugees as possible. He even announced plans to increase the number of refugees the United States will take in in 2017 to 110,000, a significant increase from 85,000 in 2016. However, his press secretary, Josh Earnest, did admit last week that there is only so much the President and his administration can do.
Earnest told reporters that “the President’s commitment to ensuring that the United States plays a leading role on this issue is not shared by a lot of people in Congress, including by a lot of people in the Republican majority in Congress.” He added that the lack of commitment “has an impact in terms of the resources that are dedicated to this effort.”
Watch President Obama’s full speech from the summit below, via YouTube:
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