Six months ago, President Obama declared a goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in the US by the end of the fiscal year (October 1st). Unfortunately, he is very far behind. In September, Obama told his administration to scale up the number of Syrian refugees that would be welcomed into the united states by the end of the fiscal year with a target of 10,000, this was in response to the migrant crisis in Europe.
So far only 1,300 Syrian refugees have been accepted. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon plead the international community to accept more refugees. The UN is currently undertaking an effort to resettle 480,000 Syrian refugees. There are currently 5 million Syrian refugees registered with the UN. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has called this “the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time”,
The US State department has said they are taking steps to speed up the process. One of the ways they are speeding it up is by creating a new “pathway” for Syrians with relatives in the US. The US State department also said that they are committing $10 million to the UNHCR to help with refugee resettlement. They except Syrian refugee arrivals in the US to steadily increase throughout the fiscal year and eventually culminating in the 10,000 goal.
Unfortunately the publicly available data shows that the rate of Syrian refugees being accepted has decreased in four out of the six months. “The system is not designed to move too fast” State department spokesman John Kirby said. Currently it takes an average of 18 to 24 months for a refugee to be fully vetted for resettlement by the UN and then referred to the US. Once referred refugees have to go through a extensive review process that involves interviews, medical evaluation, and an interagency security screening to ensure they don’t pose a threat.
Public opinion of accepting Syrian refugees into the US has changed also in light of recent terrorist attacks. A bloomberg poll found that 53% of American adults didn;t want Syrian refugees resettled in the US after the Paris attacks, in September the percentage was 44%.
Syrian refugees have also become a topic of debate in the 2016 presidential election. At the state level, governors have pledged to stop accepting refugees or limit financial support for resettlement. Congress also took up a bill that would have suspended resettlement of Syrian refugees until they were certified of not being a risk to the US.
The effect this could have on the middle east is that it could lead to other middle eastern countries struggling to take care of them, cause conflicts between shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims, and also create more terrorists since these people would have nothing to turn too. It’s important for the US to accept these Syrian Refugees to foster better relations with the middle east, and to hurt ISIS’ propaganda.