USCIS Director: Vast Majority of Syrian Refugees Vetted Have Been Admitted to U.S.

henry smith
AP Photo/Ronald Zak

The vast majority of the Syrian refugees vetted for admission to the U.S. have been approved, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director León Rodríguez revealed Wednesday.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, Rodríguez revealed, when questioned by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), that currently just 20 percent of Syrian refugees are either denied or on hold.

“At this time I believe it was approximately 20 percent,” Rodríguez said. “Of the group that we’ve admitted so far. In other words, there are a number of individuals in the pipeline, so that rate could shift.”

Smith expressed concern at the relatively high approval rate.

“For a group that seems to be riskier, and a group on which you have less information than those from other countries, it seems that is a dangerously high admission rate,” Smith said.

Rodríguez reiterated that the 20 percent “is a rate of nonadmission. In other words, those could be individuals who have either been outright denied or on hold.

In October, Barbara Strack, the head the Refugee Affairs Division at USCIS, testified that the approval rate for Syrian refugees was over 90 percent.

“Right now it’s running a little over 90 percent for Syrian applicants but that percentage is based on all the cases that have been decided yes and no, what it leaves out is cases that are still under review or still on hold,” Strack said during a Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest hearing.