Obama Praises Refugees in Malaysia: ‘Excited’ to See What You Do in America

Barack Obama (C) speaks with children between the ages of seven and nine as he tours the Dignity for Children Foundation in Kuala Lumpur on November 21, 2015.
Ssul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama is using his visit to a refugee center in Malaysia to highlight the plight of Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar and remind the world that he’s committed to bringing more refugees to America.

“I’m very excited to see what the individuals sitting around this table end up doing in the United States of America, because my suspicion is that they’re going to do great things,” he said. Obama spoke after visiting a group of refugees at the Dignity for Children Foundation in Malaysia who were on their way to settle in the United States.

“As long as I’m President, we’re going to keep on stepping up and making sure that America remains as it has always been, a place where people who, in other parts of the world, are subject to discrimination or violence, that they have in America a friend and a place of refuge,” he said.

The president has spent his week overseas voicing criticism for Republicans and Democrats who responded to the terrorist attacks in Paris by raising security concerns over Syrian refugees.

The president took the opportunity to remind Americans that the refugees present were “indistinguishable from any child in America” and deserved “love and protection and stability and an education.” He insisted that the nation was a “beacon of hope” for refugees worldwide, reminding Americans that it was their duty to respond to the suffering.

“That’s American leadership. That’s when we’re the shining light on the hill,” he said. “Not when we respond on the basis of fear.”