Pushing back the halt put forth by US politicians, President Barack Obama vowed Saturday that his country will be a welcoming place for millions fleeing violence around the world “as long as he is president.”
Back home, Obama’s administration is coming under fire for passing bill for the acceptance of Muslim refugees from Syria and Iraq.
During his visit to Malaysian centre for displaced children on Saturday, President Obama said the world must offer a safe haven to refugees.
At the Dignity for Children Foundation in Kuala Lumpur, Obama knelt down to chat to children aged between seven and nine years about their art work and hopes for the future.
“Are you learning English?” Obama asked one girl after greeting her and shaking her hand. “You’re working so hard.
Pointing to the children Obama said “they represent the opposite of terror, the opposite of the type of despicable violence we saw in Mali and Paris.”
Most of the children the president met with are Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar to escape persecution by the country’s Buddhist majority, with many ending up in Malaysia, where Obama was attending a regional economic summit.
Speaking of the children he had met, Obama said: “Anybody who had a chance to see those kids, hopefully you understood the degree to which they’re just like our kids. They deserve love and stability and protection.”
Last week’s Paris attacks by ISIS have led U.S. lawmakers halting or delay the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S.