'10,000th Syrian refugee' re-settled in US

'10,000th Syrian refugee' re-settled in US
US ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells says Washington will reach on Monday its target of taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees in a yearlong resettlement programme.
2 min read
28 August, 2016
Washington will reach on Monday its target of taking in 10,000 Syrian war refugees [AFP]

The US ambassador to Jordan has said that Washington on Monday would reach its target of taking in 10,000 Syrian war refugees in a yearlong resettlement programme.

Ambassador Alice Wells met on Sunday with three refugee families ahead of their departure to San Diego, California, and Charlottesville, Virginia. Preference is given to victims of violence, those with medical problems and children.

In a reference to the security debate, Wells said that "refugees are the most thoroughly screened category of travelers to the United States".

President Barack Obama called for a dramatic increase in the number of Syrian refugees resettled in the US last September.

However bureaucratic red tape, terror fears, concerns about inadequate security checks and congressional efforts to block refugee flows have left the process to host the 10,000 Syrians in the 2016 fiscal year seriously behind target.

After last year's terror attacks in Paris, critics warned that the Islamic State militant group was seeking to infiltrate the United States through poorly monitored refugee flows.

CIA director John Brennan warned in June that the extremist group "is probably exploring a variety of means" to get operatives into the West "including in refugee flows, smuggling routes, and legitimate methods of travel".

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump also alleged that displaced Syrians constituted a potential security threat.

Read also: America's selectivity on refugee resettlement

He demanded an immediate end to US refugee admissions from Middle Eastern nations until a better vetting system is established, despite the presence of stringent vetting measures already in place.

"Our country has enough difficulty right now without letting the Syrians pour in," Trump said in a National Border Patrol Council podcast in June.

"They could be [IS]. They could be who knows. But we're going to stop that immediately," he said.

In a New York speech the same month, Trump also warned voters that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton planned to spend "hundreds of billions of dollars" to resettle Middle Eastern refugees, or enough money to "rebuild every inner city in America".

Clinton said last year that Washington should expand the Syrian resettlement programme to 65,000 refugees.

Close to 5 million Syrians have fled civil war since 2011. Most struggle to survive in tough conditions in neighbouring countries.

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Agencies contributed to this report.