Obama Administration Hits Goal Of Welcoming 10,000 Syrian Refugees

WASHINGTON — The 10,000th Syrian refugee to resettle in the U.S. this fiscal year arrived on Monday, the White House announced, following through on an ambitious plan by President Barack Obama to welcome more people from the country.

The administration also is set to meet its goal of welcoming 85,000 refugees from around the world by the end of the fiscal year, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a statement.

It’s the Syrian refugees who have been particularly controversial ever since Obama first announced plans last September to admit 10,000 of them in the 2016 fiscal year ― which ends Sept. 30 ― and especially after terrorist attacks in Paris last November. More than half of the nation’s governors said they didn’t want Syrian refugees in their states in the wake of those attacks, and Republicans in Congress repeatedly voted to make it more difficult for the government to approve them for resettlement.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump frequently talks about his opposition to Syrian refugees, insisting terrorists are among them. He first said he would ban all Muslims from immigrating to the U.S., refugee or otherwise, and later modified the ban to cover people from countries “compromised by terrorism” ― a broad designation that would include Syria.

The administration pressed forward with Syrian refugee resettlement in spite of the opposition. All refugees go through extensive background checks, with additional vetting for those from Syria.

Most refugees resettled in the U.S. are first referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They are vetted by the departments of State and Homeland Security with assistance from the FBI and intelligence agencies, in a process that includes interviews with officers and review of social media accounts.

About 60 percent of the 10,000 Syrian refugees admitted so far this fiscal year were under the age of 18, according to the State Department.

As of the end of July, refugees from Burma and the Democratic Republic of the Congo made up the largest proportions of refugees resettled in the U.S. this fiscal year, followed by those from Syria.

There are more than 4.8 million Syrian refugees worldwide.

By Elise Foley for The Huffington Post
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