On Monday afternoon, the 10,000th Syrian refugee arrived in the country, meeting White House’s ambitious goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees across the U.S. this fiscal year.
“On behalf of the President and his Administration, I extend the warmest of welcomes to each and every one of our Syrian arrivals,”
said Susan Rice, the Obama administration’s national security adviser.
Federal officials declined to identify the refugees or the places where they will be directed. But according to a report from the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, the top destinations for the refugees are Michigan, California, Texas, and Arizona.
Each of these states will welcome more than 800 Syrian migrants. Next in line are Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, and a handful of other states with more than 500 refugees each.
The least appealing destinations are Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
The Obama administration announced that the relocation program has been a sheer success as the 10,000-refugee-goal was met one month before the deadline. The administration explained that it had to increase the number of relocated refugees by six times from a year prior as acts of violence in Syria have escalated.
According to the administration’s spokesperson Josh Earnest, that number could rise by “a few thousand more” in 2017. Earnest revealed that the current program was a compromise solution.
The White House also announced its plan to renegotiate with Congress the number of refugees America should take in. In Congress, some Republicans staunchly oppose any raise.
According to a recent report, over 4.8 million Syrians had to leave their homes during the ongoing civil war. But of these, just 1 percent set foot in the U.S. Nearly half of the refugees are 14 years old or younger, while 62 percent are not yet 20.
The asylum seekers’ favorite destinations are Michigan and California.
Amnesty International USA praised Obama administration for its relocation efforts. The group said that it is “a wonderful thing” that so many families managed to find shelter and escape the horrors of war. But Amnesty added that many more struggle in war zones and refugee camps. The group urged the U.S. government to ramp up relocation efforts for victims of human rights abuses.
Nonetheless, many Republican regulators will surely oppose an extended program. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has expressed his negative views on the issue on many occasions during the campaign trail.
Republicans’ top argument for their opposition to Middle-East refugees is that Islamic fanatics and terrorists may try to enter the U.S. through this channel. The U.S. ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells addressed these concerns this weekend.
She said in an interview that the relocation program did not interfere with the nation’s “robust security measures.”
All in all, the White House prides itself on the new program. In April, just 1,285 of 10,000 Syrian refugees had made it to the U.S. But shortly afterward, John Kerry pledged that the White House would stick to its commitment to protect distressed Syrians and their families. And authorities started to relocate refugees faster.
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