132 Syrian Muslim Refugees Admitted to U.S. in 4 Days After Inauguration

By Patrick Goodenough | January 25, 2017 | 4:30am EST
A U.N. staffer helps refugees and migrants register at a police station on the Greek island of Kos. (Photo: UNHCR/S.Baltagiannis)

(CNSNews.com) – Since the day after President Trump’s inauguration, 773 refugees have been admitted into the United States.

The largest single contingent, 136-strong, comprises Syrian refugees, according to State Department Refugee Processing Center data. Of those, 132 (97 percent) are Muslims, three are Yazidis and one is a Christian.

Sizeable groups have also arrived since January 21 from other countries compromised by terrorism, including 88 from Somalia, 80 from Iraq and 52 from Iran.

(If the count includes the day of the inauguration, the number rises to 878 in total, including 166 Syrians and 115 Iraqis.)

The president is reportedly planning to issue executive orders this week freezing refugee admissions, pending measures to strengthen the security vetting process.

According to a Reuters report, Trump will in addition move to restrict immigration from seven specified countries – Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

The seven include the three countries currently designated by the State Department as state-sponsors of terrorism – Iran, Syria and Sudan – and others that have been among the most affected by terrorism in recent years.

Not included, however, are several countries that scored high on the most recent Global Terrorism Index, notably Afghanistan (2nd on the list), Nigeria (3rd), Pakistan (4th), India (7th) and Egypt (9th).

Rankings on the index, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace, are calculated based on the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, casualties, and the level of property damage.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said late Tuesday that the anticipated executive orders “will be the actual implementation of what then-candidate Trump said would be a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States.”

“These [orders] will not make our nation safer, rather they will make it more fearful and less welcoming,” CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad tweeted in response to the Reuters report.

CAIR has scheduled a press conference Wednesday afternoon to respond to the expected actions by the president. (Reuters said the executive orders are likely to be issued on Wednesday, although officials cited in later reports indicated it could happen later this week.)

After the December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif. by a couple inspired by ISIS, Trump controversially called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

During a presidential debate later in the campaign, he said that the Muslim ban proposal had “morphed into extreme vetting [of Muslim visitors] from certain areas of the world.” He cited Syrians in particular.

During fiscal year 2016, the Obama administration admitted a total of 12,587 Syrian refugees, according to the Refugee Processing Center data. The vast majority – 12,363, or 98.2 percent – were Sunni Muslims. Sixty-eight (0.5 percent) were Christians and 24 (0.2 percent) were Yazidis.

From the beginning of FY 2017 (October 1, 2016) until the end of the Obama presidency, another 4,618 Syrian refugees were resettled in the United States. Of those, 4,441 (96 percent) were Sunnis and 85 (1.8 percent) were Christians.

Since the day after Trump’s inauguration, a further 136 Syrian refugees have arrived – 120 Sunnis, 12 other Muslims, three Yazidis and one Christian.

Over the same period (since the inauguration), a total of 773 refugees have been resettled in the United States. Along with the 136 Syrians, they hail from 22 countries – Afghanistan (6), Bhutan (102), Burma (48), Burundi (9), Central African Republic (3), Colombia (1), Democratic Republic of Congo (126), El Salvador (3), Eritrea (22), Ethiopia (8), Honduras (4), Indonesia (2), Iran (52), Iraq (80), Ivory Coast (6), Moldova (18), Pakistan (6), Russia (3), Somalia (88), Sudan (12), Ukraine (37) and Yemen (1).

It remains to be seen how Trump’s anticipated executive orders will affect the FY 2017 refugee resettlement target set last fall by the Obama administration.

Then, the administration announced a goal of 110,000 refugee admissions from around the world, an almost 30 percent increase from the FY 2016 target of 85,000.

Its proposal did not specify numbers from Syria, but State Department officials indicated an intention to bring in more than in FY 2016 (i.e., more than 12,587).

By the end of the Obama administration, its plans were well on track: A little under one-quarter of the way through the fiscal year, more than one-quarter of the projected 110,000 refugees had been admitted.

From the beginning of FY 2017 until Trump’s inauguration, a total of 30,112 refugees – 27.3 percent of the fiscal year target – had been resettled in the U.S.

The biggest groups were from the Democratic Republic of Congo (5,421), Iraq (4,653), Syria (4,618), Somalia (3,806), Burma (2,203), Ukraine (1,898), Bhutan (1,581) and Iran (1,476).

Depending on the duration of an envisaged refugee admission freeze, this week’s expected executive orders could well put the previous administration’s 110,000 target in jeopardy.

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