Obama Admits 10,000 Syrian Refugees: This Is Where They Are Headed
Yesterday, the White House announced that the US had met President Obama’s goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country; it did so ahead of schedule.
One year ago Obama had sought a sixfold increase in the number of Syrian refugees provided safe haven in the United States. After a slow start, the administration was able to hit the goal about a month early and just a few weeks before Obama convenes a summit on refugees during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly. He would have been hard-pressed to make the case for other countries to do more with the U.S. failing to reach a goal that amounts to about 2% of the 480,000 Syrian refugees in need of resettlement. Millions more Syrians have fled to neighboring states such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon and to countries in Europe since the civil war broke out in 2011.
Over 1 million Syrian refugees made their way to Germany, where the resultant social shock, and surge in violent terrorist attacks, have led to a plunge in Angela Merkel's approval rating. That, however, has not deterred the US from seeking to admit thousands of refugees.
“On behalf of the president and his administration, I extend the warmest of welcomes to each and every one of our Syrian arrivals, as well as the many other refugees resettled this year from all over the world,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a statement. More from the statement:
Less than a year ago, in response to an historic global refugee crisis, involving millions of Syrians in flight from violence and conflict, President Obama directed his Administration to increase the number of Syrian refugees provided safe haven in the United States. While refugee admissions are only a small part of our broader humanitarian efforts in Syria and the region, the President understood the important message this decision would send, not just to the Syrian people but to the broader international community. As such, he set a goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year. Millions have been displaced by the violence in the region, but this decision still represented a six-fold increase from the prior year, and was a meaningful step that we hope to build upon.
Today, I am pleased to announce that we will meet this goal more than a month ahead of schedule. Our 10,000th Syrian refugee will arrive this afternoon. On behalf of the President and his Administration, I extend the warmest of welcomes to each and every one of our Syrian arrivals, as well as the many other refugees resettled this year from all over the world. We will admit at least 85,000 refugees in total this year, including vulnerable individuals and families from Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, Ukraine, and many other countries.
Rice said the summit in New York City will highlight the contributions the U.S. and other nations have made to help refugees. She said the U.S. has committed to working with the international community to increase funding for humanitarian assistance and double the number of refugees afforded the opportunity to resettle.
As AP admits, the increase in Syrian refugees also comes at a time of heightened national security concerns following extremist attacks in the U.S. and abroad. The Obama administration has said that refugees fleeing war and persecution are the most scrutinized of all immigrants who come into the United States. The process typically takes 12 months to 18 months and includes in-person interviews and a review of biographical and biometric information.