State Dept. expects Syrian refugees to U.S. to ‘increase exponentially’

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( – The State Department is committed to meeting President Obama’s goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States this fiscal year, and expects the numbers to “increase exponentially” over the summer, a spokesman said Tuesday.

With four months left in FY2016, the administration has admitted 3,566 Syrian refugees as of Tuesday – or 35.6 percent of the 10,000 target number.

Although a ways off, achieving the 10,000 goal looks a lot more likely now than it did four months ago, when only 841 had arrived.

The State Department set up a special refugee “resettlement surge center” in Amman, Jordan in February, and officials said processing times had been significantly reduced from approximately 18-24 months to just three months.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday the department remained “committed” to Obama’s plan.

“I think increases in processing capacity have improved our ability to meet the 10,000 target for Syrian refugee admissions,” he said, although acknowledging that “we’re not there, we’re a good ways from it.”

“But we do expect the arrivals to increase exponentially as we move through the summer, so we are still saying we’re going to meet that 10,000-person commitment,” Toner added.

The resettlement “surge” has already seen noticeable results: From 114 Syrian refugee admissions in February, the number climbed to 330 in March, to 451 in April, and to a record 1,069 in May (adjusted up from the 1,037 originally reported by the State Department Refugee Processing Center).

And just five working days into June, the number for this month has already reached 761, putting the effort on track to easily exceed May’s record of 1,069.

(Courtesy of CNSNews)

(Courtesy of CNSNews)

As has been reporting for months, the number of Christians among the Syrian refugees allowed to resettle in the U.S. remains miniscule.

Of the 3,566 admitted so far this fiscal year, just 12 (0.33 percent) are Christians, and 3,494 (97.9 percent) are Sunni Muslims.

Of the 761 admitted since the beginning of June, none are Christians. The 761 refugees comprise 759 Sunnis, and two other Muslims.

— Written by Patrick Goodenough