According to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the Trump administration is committed to issuing additional protections for Christians under threat of genocide from ISIS in the Middle East and North Africa by granting refugee asylum in the United States.
"It's important to the president, it was during and throughout the campaign. It's something he addressed this morning and it's something he's committed to in terms of allowing Christian minorities in key countries to seek asylum in the United States," Spicer said Thursday afternoon. "He recognizes that in so many nations, these are the oppressed groups in accordance with how the U.N. defines refugees."
Thursday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., President Trump lamented current bloodshed and savagery being carried out by ISIS against vulnerable groups.
"We have seen peace-loving Muslims brutalize, victimize, murdered and oppressed by ISIS killers. We have seen threats of extermination against the Jewish people. We have seen a campaign of ISIS and genocide against Christians, where they cut off heads. Not since the Middle Ages have we seen that. We haven't seen that, the cutting off of heads. Now they cut off the heads, they drown people in steel cages," Trump said. "All nations have a moral obligation to speak out against such violence. All nations have a duty to work together to confront it and to confront it viciously if we have to."
Last year, Secretary of State John Kerry officially declared that ISIS is carrying out a genocide against Christians and other minority religious groups. The declaration triggered legal obligations for the United States and United Nations in order to comply with the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
"Naming these crimes is important," Kerry said at the time. "But what is essential is to stop them."
Based on inquiries from the American Center for Law and Justice, legal obligations in response to genocide haven't been fulfilled by the State Department on behalf of the U.S. or by the UN.
After a delayed confirmation from Democrats, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was sworn into office Wednesday night. Spicer said he expects to see more guidance on this issue from Tillerson in the future.
According to the Center of Studies of New Religions, Christians were the most persecuted religious group in the world in 2016.