Washington: The Obama administration would reach its target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by October 1, National Security Adviser Susan Rice has said.
“On behalf of the President and his Administration, I extend the warmest of welcomes to each and every one of our Syrian arrivals, as well as the many other refugees resettled this year from all over the world,” Rice said on Monday, CNN reported.
Rice acknowledged that there was much more work to be done in the region but called the move a “meaningful step that we hope to build upon”.
“While refugee admissions are only a small part of our broader humanitarian efforts in Syria and the region, the President understood the important message this decision would send, not just to the Syrian people but to the broader international community,” Rice said.
The US ambassador to Jordan, Alice Wells, on Sunday described the resettlement numbers as “a floor, not a ceiling”.
America had previously pledged to bring at least 10,000 individuals from the war-torn country during the current fiscal year, which ends next month.
David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, used similar language Monday in welcoming the American milestone, adding that he hopes it is a prod to further action.
“IRC encourages the White House to consider this 10,000 milestone ‘a floor and not a ceiling,'” he said. “The achievement of the 10,000 target proves what is possible, and there remains an urgent need to further strengthen US leadership in resettling refugee families — with appropriate vetting — fleeing violence and war.”
He urged the Obama administration to up its acceptance rate to 1,40,000 refugees in 2017.
The influx of Syrian refugees, however, has been a major domestic political flashpoint over the past year. That could prove an obstacle to any significant increase in the program.
Critics of the resettlement effort — including Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — have long expressed concern about the potential for ISIS or other terrorist groups to exploit refugee flows to reach the West, CNN reported.
Wells maintained that America’s absorption of Syrians did not come at the cost of the country’s rigorous screening processes.
“The United States government is deeply committed to safeguarding the American public, just as we are committed to providing refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” Wells said, adding, “we do not believe these goals are mutually exclusive.”