8,000 Syrian refugees enter US

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SHAFAQNA – The United States has welcomed 8,000 Syrian refugees so far and will settle 2,000 more by the end of September, a US official says.

“We can now say we have welcomed 8,000 Syrian refugees so far this year and we are very confident we will welcome at least 10,000 refugees from Syria by the end of this fiscal year,” Anne Richard, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, said in a conference call with reporters Friday.

Up until April, some 1,300 had been settled in the country and the US State Department said it was way behind the projected schedule that was first set by President Barack Obama last September.

On July 12, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the procedure for Syrian refugees is different from that for others who wish to immigrate to the United States.

“Those are refugees, which is different from normal process of migration and green card and becoming a citizen and so forth. It’s a very different category,” Kerry said. “It’s also representing six-fold increase over what we did the year before.”

However, activists have criticized the Obama administration for acting too slowly to settle the refugees mostly because of an extensive, months-long screening process aimed at preventing anyone with links to terrorist networks, including Daesh.

The US government has rejected approximately 7 percent of applications under its Syrian refugee program, while another 13 percent is being held up by “outstanding concerns,” according to Leon Rodriguez, director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Obama’s plan has also come under attack by his opponents, who have been warning of the implications for national security.

On April 14, US House Speaker Paul Ryan denounced Obama’s refugee program, citing a lack of adequate screening that puts the country at risk of terrorism.

Also, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said “a lot” of Syrians accepted for asylum in the US are members of Daesh.

Trump said the number of refugees and immigrants is increasing in the US and if Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “gets in, it will be massive and we won’t even have a country anymore.”

Daesh and other terror groups are wreaking havoc in Syria and aim to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an objective also sought by Washington.

The Arab country has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since March 2011.

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