3 things President Obama said about refugees that we all need to hear.

Speaking from the G-20 summit, President Obama appealed to our duty as human beings.

In the wake of Friday's deadly attacks in Paris, some political leaders are responding by taking staunch anti-refugee positions.

Several governors across the U.S. have declared that they will not accept Syrian refugees being relocated to their states.


Although, as Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress points out, governors don't actually have the authority to override the federal government and deny entry to refugees. Even so, the anti-refugee sentiment is far from uncommon, and that's worrisome.


On Monday, during a nearly 50-minute press conference, President Obama came to the refugees' defense.

Appearing at the G-20 conference in Turkey, the president kept coming back to the importance of not taking out the world's anger following the Paris attacks on innocent refugees.

On that topic, his comments came down to these three basic points.

1. Many refugees are victims of terrorism. They are not, themselves, terrorists.

Why are refugees fleeing places like Syria in the first place? They flee because what happened in Paris is a fairly common experience for those living in the war-torn country.


GIFs via the White House/YouTube.

If refugees are fleeing terrorism and we turn them away because of terrorism, we're sending them back to a place where what happened in Paris happens with much more frequency and much less global attention.

2. It's not fair to equate Islam with terrorism, and conflating the two will only make things worse.

"The overwhelming majority of victims of terrorism over the last several years — and certainly the overwhelming majority of victims of ISIL — are themselves Muslims," the president said.

"Those kinds of stereotypes are counterproductive, they're wrong. They will lead, I think, to greater recruitment into terrorist organizations over time if this becomes somehow defined as a Muslim problem as opposed to a terrorist problem."

3. We have a duty, as Americans and as human beings, to take in refugees.

"They are parents, they are children, they are orphans. It is important ... that we do not close our hearts to these victims," said the president.

"When I hear folks say, 'Maybe we should just admit the Christians, but not the Muslims,' when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who's fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks, themselves, come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution," Obama said, before continuing bluntly:

While the debate over what to do about the world's refugees will inevitably rage on, let's hope empathy — not hate — wins.

"The values that we are fighting against ISIL for are precisely that we don't discriminate against people because of their faith," Obama said today. "We don't kill people because they're different than us. That's what separates us from them. And we don't feed that kind of notion that somehow Christians and Muslims are at war."

You can watch the president's entire press conference from the G-20 summit in Turkey below:

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In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

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Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

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Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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