Pushing back against efforts to bar Syrian refugees from resettling in the U.S., President Barack Obama vowed Saturday that his country will be a welcoming place for millions fleeing violence around the world “as long as I’m president.

Brushing off refugee worries at home, Obama crouched alongside migrant children on Saturday and declared they are the opposite of terrorists wreaking havoc from Paris to Mali. Working to put a human face on the refugee crisis, he said, “They’re just like our kids.”

The refugees Obama encountered at a school for poor children in Malaysia were not from Syria, and unlike the flood of Syrians meeting steep resistance in the U.S., these migrants had already been cleared to resettle in America. Still, Obama said their faces could have been those of kids from Syria, Iraq and other war-torn regions whose pursuit of a life free from violence led them far from their native homes.

“They were indistinguishable from any child in America,” Obama said. “The notion that somehow we would be fearful of them — that our politics would somehow lead us to turn our sights away from their plight — is not representative of the best of who we are.”

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