USCIS Official: 90 Percent of Syrian Refugee Applications Approved

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The Obama administration’s approval rate for accepting Syrian refugees to the U.S. is currently over 90 percent, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service official testified before a Senate panel Thursday.

“Worldwide our average approval rate is about 80 percent,” Barbara Strack, the head the Refugee Affairs Division at USCIS responded when pressed by Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) on the current annual approval rate for refugees.

She noted that Syrian refugees are currently experiencing a higher approval rate.

“Right now it’s higher than [80 percent] for Syrian applicants but it’s likely to come down,” Strack said. “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.”

According to Strack the approval rate is likely to go down as those applications currently on hold are expected to be denied.

“We think a number of those hold cases, when they’re finally decided, are going to turn into denials. So when we have a little more experience with the caseload we expect that the rate will come down somewhat,” she said.

Strack and other administration officials appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest at a hearing examining the fiscal and security implications of the Obama administration’s refugee resettlement program.

Subcomittee Chairman Jeff Sessions convened the meeting after the Obama administration announced plans to drastically increase the levels of refugees admitted to the U.S. in the coming two years including large numbers from terrorist hot spots like Syria.

Republican lawmakers have raised serious national security concerns about resettling tens of thousands of refugees from dangerous regions with limited vetting resources.

“The economic and physical security of the American people must never be a secondary consideration,” Sessions said at the opening of the hearing. “With workers’ pay stagnant, our entitlement programs on the verge of insolvency, our law enforcement struggling to combat radicalization and increasing violence, and our schools and communities struggling to keep up, voters are rightly wondering about their government’s priorities.”


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