The United States reportedly denied asylum to dozens of Iraqi Christians who escaped Islamic State (ISIS) militants — even though they had family sponsors.
The Daily Mail reports the 22 Christians known as Chaldeans were among a group of 27 being held at a San Diego detention center after crossing into the United States through the Mexican border in the spring.
According to the Daily Mail, America has accepted 727 fleeing Christians this year; 4,200 Muslims have been granted asylum.
Lisa Jones, director of Christian Freedom International, said though Christians represent a much smaller segment of the Middle East population than Muslims, they are persecuted more often.
“It makes no sense,” she tells the Daily Mail. “These are people from a Christian culture like our own that needs protection from ISIS. It is harder for Christians to move around Iraq and Syria to even get the chance to seek asylum.”
“While many more Muslims are granted asylum over here, Christians are being systematically exterminated,” she argues.
ISIS militants have relentlessly pursued Christians in Iraq and Syria, who are fleeing from pressure to either convert or be executed.
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According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, five of the initial group of 27 have been charged with lying on their application forms by failing to declare they have German passports.
They, and those already turned away, have family sponsors in the United States, the Daily Mail reports.
“They have family members, also Christians, who are willing to take them in,” Jones tells the Daily Mail. “It used to be that that would be a huge help. It’s not clear why they, of all people, are being turned away while others are accepted.”
Those denied entry were directed to European countries like Germany and Sweden, the Daily Mail reports.