14,074 Syrian Refugees Admitted to US in Year Since Paris Attacks; 99.1% Muslim

By Patrick Goodenough | November 15, 2016 | 1:52 AM EST

More than four million Syrians have fled the civil war in their homeland since 2011, according to the U.N. refugee agency (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration has resettled 14,074 Syrian refugees in the United States since the Paris terror attacks a year ago prompted concerns that terrorist groups could exploit refugee admission programs to infiltrate Western countries.

Of those 14,074 refugees, 13,954 (99.1 percent) are Muslims, including 13,808 Sunnis, 27 Shi’ites, and 119 others self-described in State Department Refugee Processing Center data as simply “Moslem.”

Eighty-three (0.58 percent) of the 14,074 Syrian arrivals are Christians, and another 28 (0.19 percent) are Yazidis, another minority which, like the Christian community, has been singled out and targeted by violent jihadists in what the U.S. and several other governments have labeled “genocide.”

The Christian cohort comprises 17 Catholics, 15 Orthodox, five Protestants, four Jehovah’s Witnesses, one Greek Orthodox and 41 refugees described as “Christian” with no further denomination provided.

Of the 14,074 Syrian refugees admitted over the past year, 3,520 (25 percent) are males between the ages of 14 and 50, and 3,192 (22.6 percent) are females aged 14-50.

Another 6,816 (48.4 percent) are children aged under 14, made up of 3,508 boys and 3,308 girls. A further 302 are men older than 51, and 244 are women in that age bracket.

Viewed differently, 10,252 (72.84 percent) of the Syrian refugees admitted since the Paris attack are women and children, while 3,822 (27.15 percent) are men aged over 14.

The ethnic breakdown of the 14,074 Syrian refugees is 13,001 (92.3 percent) Arabs, 889 (6.3 percent) Kurds, 112 (0.8 percent) Turkmen, 16 Armenians and 11 Assyrians. The rest are made up of 10 Circassians, nine Chechens, four Turks, two Syriacs and 20 “other.”

The Paris terror attacks, which killed 130 people and were claimed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), turned a new spotlight on security questions relating to the admission of refugees from the Syrian civil war.

French prosecutors said two of the Paris attackers had evidently entered Europe through Greece, posing as refugees fleeing from the Syrian conflict. National authorities warned other European governments that “some terrorists are trying to get into our countries and commit criminal acts by mixing in with the flow of migrants and refugees.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate committee last February that ISIS was “taking advantage of the torrent of migrants [entering Europe] to insert operatives into that flow.”

The administration says applicants for refugee status from Syria are subject to the most rigorous vetting of any refugees.

Our vetting is extremely rigorous and careful, and it’s been gone over now for months by a lot of colleagues and analysts,” Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard, head of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, told a briefing in late September.

“It’s the most careful way of bringing anyone into the United States of any visitor to the United States,” she said. “So we have great faith in it to screen out people who don’t belong in the program.”

The administration admitted a total of 12,587 Syrian refugees during fiscal year 2016, which ended on September 30. Of those, 12,486 (99.19 percent) were Muslims, 68 (0.5 percent) were Christians, and 24 (0.19 percent) were Yazidis.

So far this calendar year, the total number of Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. is 13,691, of whom 13,572 (99.1 percent) are Muslims, 82 (0.59 percent) are Christians and 28 (0.2 percent) are Yazidis.

During the presidential election campaign, Republican nominee Donald Trump called for a halt to what he described as “the tremendous flow of Syrian refugees into the United States.”

“We don’t know who they are, they have no documentation, and we don’t know what they’re planning,” he said in a speech last June.

More recently, Trump shortly before the election used a campaign stop in Minnesota to draw attention to refugees from Somalia, charging that there had been “faulty refugee vetting.” He pointed to a stabbing attack in a shopping mall in September, carried out by a Somali-American who according to reports was the son of refugees but spent most of his life in America.

The Obama administration has set a FY 2017 total refugee admission target of 110,000, an almost 30 percent increase from the FY 2016 target of 85,000. The proposal does not specify numbers from Syria, but State Department officials say they aim to bring in more than in FY 2016.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow