The Obama administration and international community are using “alternate legal pathways” to bring more Syrian refugees to the United States outside of the refugee resettlement program, including encouraging colleges and universities to award scholarships to Syrians refugees.
According to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies, U.S. colleges have awarded 150 Syrian students scholarships and the number of Syrians on campus is expected to grow to meet international needs.
“The numbers for 2016 will probably be much higher to meet the hundreds of thousands in need. Granted, a significant number will be admitted to universities in the Middle East, but many others will be joining U.S. campuses,” CIS senior researcher and report author Nayla Rush explained.
Spearheading the effort, according to Rush, is the nonprofit Institute of International Education (IIE), which is largely funded by foreign governments, international organizations, and U.S. government agencies.
“IIE administers the Fulbright Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State,” Rush wrote. “The Fulbright Scholar Program takes on ‘two of the biggest challenges facing the world today: climate change and the refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civil war.’ One wonders about such ostensibly private sponsorships, which are largely funded with public money and are fully aligned with this administration’s policies.”
President Obama has pledged to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. by the end of this fiscal year, in spite of concerns voice by top security officials and Republicans that the U.S. lacks the vetting capabilities and information required to suss out terrorist threats from the refugee flow.
According to Rush, the administration is also looking for other avenues to bring more Syrian refugees into the U.S. outside of the refugee program.
“The Obama administration is working diligently to bring in as many Syrian refugees as possible and has developed ‘alternative legal pathways’ for refugees in order to circumvent the numerical targets of the refugee resettlement program,” Rush said in a statement. “Thousands of additional refugees can enter this country under the indirect routes the administration is encouraging, including student visas, academic scholarships, medical admissions, and employment contracts as well as broader family reunification programs.”