This Thanksgiving, President Obama is calling for Americans to lend a helping hand to another group of pilgrims fleeing persecution.
“Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families,” Obama said in his weekly address Thursday. “What makes America America is that we offer that chance.”
The president praised Americans who have offered to open their homes to refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.
“One woman from Pennsylvania wrote to me to say, ‘Money is tight for us in my household. … But I have a guest room. I have a pantry full of food. We can do this,’ ” Obama said.
“Another woman from Florida told me her family’s history dates back to the Mayflower — and she said that welcoming others is part of ‘what it means to be an American,’ ” he added.
Obama called for citizens to put the “generosity” of America on full display by welcoming refugees into the country with arms wide open.
“I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving, surrounded by loved ones and full of joy and gratitude,” he said. “And together, may we all play our own small part in the American story, and write a next chapter that future generations can be thankful for.”
The House passed a measure earlier this month making it more difficult for Syrian refugees fleeing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to enter the country.
Republicans have cast doubt on whether refugees can be properly vetted to ensure that they are not terrorists.
At least one assailant in the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attack, in which 130 people were killed, is suspected of entering France posed as a migrant.