(RNN) – A little boy from New York made waves Wednesday when a video in which he offered to adopt a Syrian refugee from Aleppo went viral.
In a handwritten letter sent to the White House, 6-year-old Alex asked President Barack Obama to bring 5-year-old Syrian refugee Omran Daqneesh to his house so he and his family could adopt the boy.
A photo of Daqneesh covered in blood and dust was widely disseminated online after an August airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, which destroyed his family’s home.
Alex refers to the photo in his letter and says his family will be waiting for Omran with flags, flowers and balloons. He says he and Omran can be brothers and Alex and his sister will share their toys with the little boy. Alex also invites Omran to play with him and his friend Omar, also from Syria.
President Barack Obama shared Alex’s letter on Facebook as well as reading it out during his speech at the Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis Tuesday. In his speech and on Facebook, Obama urged people to be more accepting of refugees.
“We should all be more like Alex. Imagine what the world would look like if we were. Imagine the suffering we could ease and the lives we could save,” Obama wrote.
Obama’s summit at the United Nations brought together UN leaders to commit to increasing funding for UN humanitarian agencies, admitting additional refugees and increasing refugees’ ability to access education and work opportunities.
“I called this summit because this crisis is one of the more urgent tests of our time, a test of collective action,” the president said.
Commitments totaled $4.5 billion, including $1 billion from the United States, and Obama announced the U.S. would welcome more refugees from around the world, increasing the number we take in by 40 percent over the next two years.
Obama’s announcement has been controversial. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that he intended to withdraw his state from the federal resettlement program unless the Office of Refugee Resettlement could ensure refugees did not pose a security threat to Texas.
“The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Director of National Intelligence have repeatedly declared their inability to fully screen refugees from terrorist-based nations,” Abbott said.
The White House website notes refugees are thoroughly screened through security checks, biographic and biometric data, consultation of law enforcement and intelligence community databases and extensive interviews.
“If we were to turn refugees back, we would be reinforcing terrorist propaganda that nations like my own are somehow opposed to Islam. It’s an ugly lie that must be rejected,” President Obama said in his speech Tuesday. “It’s a test of our common humanity, whether we give into suspicion and fear and build walls.”
More than three million refugees have been admitted to the U.S. since 1975, according to data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. The Pew Research Center estimates 12.5 million Syrians alone have been displaced from their homes since the country’s civil war began in 2011.
Read Alex’s full letter here.
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