President Obama embraced a classroom of migrant children in Malaysia Saturday in a bid to send a powerful message to the world — they are not to be feared.
“They’re just like our kids,” the President declared.
Obama’s appearance at a learning center in the capital of Kuala Lumpur came as Europe grapples with the worst migrant crisis since World War II.
Several countries have closed their borders in recent weeks, and dozens of U.S. governors have announced they will fight efforts to relocate Syrians to their states.
President Obama meets with children as he tours the Dignity for Children Foundation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Obama’s meeting with the kids was seen as an effort to put a human face to the controversial issue.
Obama hugged and joked with numerous children in crisp white uniforms and neckties as they worked on art projects and puzzles.
The kids Obama encountered at the center — all of them poor, many of them refugees — appeared unfazed by the presence of the leader of the free world.
Obama gets a hug from a 16-year-old refugee from Myanmar during his Malaysia visit.
In one classroom where migrant children were learning English, Obama moved from student to student asking about their dreams for the future.
The youngsters “represent the opposite of terror, the opposite of the type of despicable violence we saw in Mali and Paris,” 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.”
Obama emphasized the kids he met were no different from the children in Syria, Iraq and other war-torn nations who fled their homes in pursuit of better lives.
The refugee children, unlike the flood of Syrian migrants experiencing resistance from American governors, have already been cleared to relocate to the U.S.
Obama emphasized they were no different from the children in Syria, Iraq and other war-torn nations who fled their homes in pursuit of better lives.
“They were indistinguishable from any child in America,” Obama said.
“The notion that somehow we would be fearful of them — that our politics would somehow lead us to turn our sights away from their plight — is not representative of the best of who we are.”