The State Department is anticipating that the U.S. will admit up to 8,000 Syrian refugees in Fiscal Year 2016.
In written responses to the Senate Judiciary Immigration and the National Interest Subcommittee Republicans obtained by Breitbart News, the State Department reveals that it is expecting the U.S. will accelerate its acceptance of Syrian refugees next year.
“As of July 30, the United States has admitted 1,042 Syrian refugees in FY 2015 and anticipates admitting a total of 1,500-1,800 Syrians this fiscal year. We anticipate admitting 5,000-8,000 Syrian refugees in FY 2016,” the State Department wrote.
The Obama administration’s effort to resettle thousands of Syrian refugees into the U.S. has come under fire as a potential national security risk.
As Breitbart News has reported, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) has pressed the administration on the possibility that foreign fighters could use the program to gain entry to the U.S.
“There is a real risk that individuals associated with terrorist groups will attempt to exploit the refugee resettlement program in order to gain entry into our country. Terrorist networks are constantly probing our defenses and would not hesitate to manipulate a program meant to save those fleeing violence for the purpose of infiltrating operatives onto American soil,” McCaul wrote in a letter to Obama in June.
In written answers to the immigration subcommittee, the State Department acknowledged that it could not, with 100 percent certainly, say that ISIS or other terror organizations would not be admitted in the process but said its current screening efforts have been successful in the past.
“While no security screening program can guarantee a 100 percent success rate, the vast majority of refugees who have cleared the current security screening regime for admission to the U.S., including from some of the most troubled regions in the world, have proven to be peaceful additions to our society and, in time, productive citizens,” the State Department explained, noting that the focus would be on admitting the “most vulnerable Syrians – particularly female-headed households, children, survivors of torture, and those with severe medical conditions.”
In its response to the subcommittee dealing with concerns that communities of Syrian refugees could experience the same terror recruitment problems the Somali refugee community in Minnesota has, the State Department noted that there are “risks” but explained that the government seeks to reduce them.
“The Administration recognizes that there are risks associated with the increased admission of Syrian refugees, just as there are risks associated with the admission of other travelers to the U.S., including from other unstable environments. We are working diligently every day to reduce those risks,” the State Department said.
Earlier this month, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the chairman of the immigration subcommittee, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) pressed the Obama administration on the connection between recent terrorist activity in the U.S. and immigration. The pair are seeking the immigration histories of 72 individuals involved or linked to terrorist activity — at least 26 of who they said are known to have been foreign-born, including a couple refugees.