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How will U.S. policy affect Middle East's Christians in 2017?


An Iraqi soldier stands guard during Christmas celebrations at the al-Tahira al-Kubra church in al-Hamdaniya, east of Mosul, Dec. 25, 2016. (CNS photo/Ahmed Jalil, EPA)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A wide variety of issues, both domestic and foreign, have been raised during the presidential transition. One that hasn't received much notice is the situation of the beleaguered Christian community in the Middle East.

Given the interest in, and media coverage of, those other issues, it's an open question as to just what the United States would do for the Middle East's Christian minorities under the presidential administration of Donald J. Trump.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, said he would reintroduce a bill he first introduced in September that would ensure U.S. aid specifically reaches Christian refugees and internally displaced people in the region.

Another feature would be to allow genocide victims -- "at least the persecuted Christians," Smith said -- to apply as a family and get asylum in the United States. "It gives him the ability to get the interviews. It doesn't guarantee that they will become an asylee in the United States, but it gives them the opportunity."

Smith said he gave a copy of the bill Jan. 4 to Vice President-elect Mike Pence. "I told him that everything in this bill you could do administratively," he added.

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