U.S. Succeeds in Taking In 10,000 Syrian Refugees—Is That Enough?

Print Share on LinkedIn More


August 29, 2016; The Atlantic

The world faces a crisis of refugees and displaced people unmatched since the end of World War II, with millions of people fleeing war and violence in the Middle East and North and sub-Saharan Africa. Last September, President Obama announced that the United States would resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees within one year. Reactions from individual states to this pledge were, as NPQ correspondent Rick Cohen noted, “sad, predictable, and disappointing.”

Last fall, NPQ’s nonprofit newswire reported that fifteen governors said their states were not open to Syrian refugees, period. Both the Republican and Democratic candidates vying to replace Bobby Jindal as Louisiana governor called for a halt to Syrian refugees in that state—a truly bipartisan example of human intolerance and indecency. At the time, Cohen wrote, “This is one of those rare moments in history when a humanitarian gesture by the U.S. government has become a divisive political issue.”

The governments of some states even went so far as to threaten nonprofits. Last November, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission sent a letter to local nonprofits involved in resettlement, asking them to stop serving Syrian refugees by the end of the week. But the resettlement agencies stood their ground, backed by the federal government. In Indiana, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued an injunction to Governor Mike Pence to stop him from trying to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in that state by stopping the flow of federal dollars to a nonprofit, Exodus Refugee Immigration. The lawsuit claimed that Pence’s decision was constitutionally unfair to Syrians based on their country of origin. Similar lawsuits had been brought by organizations providing refugee services in Alabama and Pennsylvania.

War is still raging in Syria, now in its sixth year. On Monday, 6,500 refugees and migrants, believed to be mostly from Somalia and Eritrea, were rescued off the coast of Libya by the Italian coast guard, humanitarian organizations, and the European border control. Within 24 hours, 40 separate rescue operations were conducted by the Italian Coastguard who rescued refugees in lifejackets jumping off rubber dinghies. It was “one of the largest influxes of refugees in a single day this year.”

But on that same day, a small bit of good news arrived an ocean away. The Obama administration announced that the 10,000th Syrian refugee had touched down in the United States. This goal was reached a month before its deadline—rather extraordinary, given that by the end of June the U.S. had only resettled 5,200 Syrian refugees, leaving only three months to reach the goal of 10,000, and no small feat under any political circumstance, especially given the complex, 18–24 month vetting process for all refugees that is even more stringent for those arriving from Syria.

The 20-step process for Syrian refugees entering the country includes registration, interviews, and background checks with the United Nations and the State Department; background checks and fingerprinting from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense; and a match with an American resettlement agency. Unlike refugees from other countries, each Syrian refugee case must be reviewed by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services refugee specialist.

In the last twelve months, the U.S. government has resettled refugees in dozens of states, with the highest number resettling in Michigan and California. Since 2012, Syrian refugees have been placed in 231 cities and towns, mostly affordable, medium-sized cities like Boise, Idaho, and Worcester, Massachusetts, with San Diego accepting more than any other American city. Most were placed in the last three months.

Over 85,000 refugees in total will have been resettled by the end of the fiscal year on September 30th, an increase of 15,000 from last year. But it is important to note that the U.S. has been much more welcoming to refugees in the past. In 1979–80, it received over 300,000 Vietnamese refugees, and during the same period took in more than 120,000 Cuban refugees during the Mariel boatlift.

The president is gratified that we have succeeded in meeting this goal,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday. “We were able to do all of that without cutting any corners when it comes to security.” Earnest indicated that Obama would like to accept more Syrian refugees in the upcoming fiscal year, which starts on October 1st.—Vanessa Wu

  • Roger

    While it is wonderful that the USA has accepted 10,000 Syrian refugees I think that it’s important to point out that here in Canada, with about 1/10th of your population, by last spring we had settled 25,000 Syrian refugees. With that in mind perhaps your target should be 250,000.
    Roger Elmes
    Past President, Progressive INterculrural Community Services Society

  • Ange Crowell

    Im sorry, the sensible thing to help these refugees is not spending millions to send them half way across the globe and settle them into a society that they are not wanting to assimilate, contribute or live in. They live their way, and we Americans live Ours. Which Leaves the Solution, the ONLY solution is Setting Up Safe Zones and Sending Aid rather than OverBurdening the USA even more, considering Obama has had our borders open since 2008 and an Invasion of Undocumented Illegal Alien Border Hoppers have Come with the FALSE Hope of Getting Free Citizenship from the Executive OverReach of the DACA and DAPA program, Obamas Voter Frauds. No Way Do We Need to Spend ANY more American Tax Dollars Supporting another Nation, When Non Enforcement of Constitutional Laws has Endangered this Country! The Judea Christian Based Constitution is the ONLY Protection for Americans Right now, cause unlike European countries, Not ONLY are Men armed, so are Women and We Will Not Stand by and Be Raped like Merkel, Obamas Joint Partner in Crime, has Allowed to happen in Germany!
    Demand voter ID for the 500,000 Illegal Visa Overstays and the Millions od Illegal Alien Border Hoppers who are undocumented and just passing time to jump to Free Citizenship under Obamas Executive OverReach of the DACA and DAPA programs. These people are known from previous ICE Raids(which have not occured By the way since 2008) to have Stolen Identites, Fake IDs andNot Surprising with a National Presidential Election, States have not once again, Purged the Deceased and Moved Voters from their systems. What about all those Displace by the Out of Control, Fast Movng Wildfires(?) that displaced 1000’s from their homes? the Farce of a Minority Rights of Not having FREEDOM to Vote is Ridiculous and Should be Challenged as Such! If a Minority cannot Obtain a Valid voter ID with the States programs to Help them, then MAYBE they ARE NOT LEGAL TO VOTE?! I Feel an Election of Integrity Overides a Minority at a time with such an INVASION of Illegals in this country, perpetuated by Non Enforcement of Constitutional Laws, for the Main Goal of Voter Fraud by these Illegals….a replay of the 2008 Election when Obama got Elected and we were all like HUH? Where did he even come from? Try delving into the Muslim Brotherhood and Look for the Ties of How Obama got Seated in Government in the First Place. This Administration has Stolen Tax Payer OverTaxed Money to DESTROY Our Nation, Our Constitution and Our Freedoms. It is going to Take Every American, No Matter Race, Religion or Background to Defeat the Terror that has Invaded Our Borders with the Quiet Seeding of Sanctuary Cities that harbor Killers like the one who killed Kate Steinle, Terror Training Camps as No go Zones that are Unchecked, Uninvestigated and Fully Operational with the INTENT on taking Our Country from us. Not to Mention the Mosques that have conviently setup themselves in the Inner Cities where those who have been shouldering the Burden of Lost Jobs in this country due to OverTaxation and EPS Guidelines that have made it Difficult for them to stay here…in the country Most were Started in….and IF We had those jobs, these Inner City Youth would be Working instead of Radicalized by the Internet that Obama has Now Decided the United Nations Needs to Censor for Us, I mean, the way he has portrayed Americans as he Flies All Over the World, Aplogizing for past wars that he should not be apologizing for, making a Mockery out of United States Citizens in the Process. All We can do is Speak Up for the Voter ID, pay attention to those in Washington Congress and House who are STONEWALLING and Not Speaking Out to the People How Things REALLY Are for their Own Personal Gain…VOTE THEM OUT! The ONLY thing this nation has in her favor is that sacred Judea Christian based Constitution that Allows Americans to be Armed to Protect Ourselves from an Out of Control, Tyrannist Government that is Selling Our Nation to Foreign lands with Midnight Runs of Billions of Cash to the #1 Terror Nation of them All…IRAN. I Pray for the Sweet Justice to One Day allow Obama and his Evil Administration stand before a judge, and face the consequences of Treason and Endangering this Nation and the World for their One World Government all Supported by Hungarian George Soros! LOCK THEM UP! This is OUR Country, not the Current Corrupt Leadership that should have been IMPEACHED A Long Time Ago if so many in Washington were not Bought by Hillary and her Clinton Cash! Justice and the Truth Will Prevail, God Protects His Children and what has been occuring is Nothing More than the Disdain for Any Life other than the Select Elite!

  • Ange Crowell

    I cant wait til Trump is Elected! Bringing back Integrity, something VERY Few Media or Politicians have Anymore!