(CNSNews.com) – The government has admitted 605 Syrian refugees for resettlement in the United States since last November’s Paris terrorist attack, two of whom are Christians.
The rest are 589 Sunni Muslims, 10 Shia Muslims, three other Muslims, and one refugee identified in State Department Refugee Processing Center data as “other religion.”
At the same time, the proportion of Christians among the total cohort of Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S. since the conflict began five years ago has now dropped below two percent.
Just 55 Christians (1.9 percent) are among the 2,769 Syrian refugees admitted since March 2011, while a large majority – 2,594 (93.6 percent) – has been Sunni Muslims.
Christians accounted for about 10 percent of Syria’s population when the civil war began and Sunni Muslims for an estimated 74 percent.
Christians and other non-Muslim minorities have been targeted specifically by ISIS and other radical groups, and monitoring group estimate that more than 700,000 Christians have fled Syria since then.
Other non-Muslims among the Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. since the war began include small numbers of Baha’i (2), Yazidis (1), Jehovah’s Witnesses (8), Zoroastrians (6), atheists (3) and Syrians who have self-identified as having no religion (7).
The administration has rejected calls by some Republican lawmakers, and some GOP presidential candidates, for Syrian Christians to be prioritized in the refugee admission process.
The ISIS terrorist attack in Paris on November 13 fueled concerns that the terrorist group was exploiting the flow of refugees and migrants as cover to send jihadists into the West to carry out attacks.
French authorities said two of the attackers had been carrying fake Syrian passports and warned European Union partners that “some terrorists are trying to get into our countries and commit criminal acts by mixing in with the flow of migrants and refugees.”
Last Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper affirmed during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that ISIS has done so.
“Isn’t it already proven that Mr. Baghdadi is sending people with this flow of refugees that are terrorists that – in order to inflict further attacks on Europe and the United States?” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked him, referring to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“That’s correct,” Clapper replied. “That’s one technique they’ve used is taking advantage of the torrent of migrants to insert operatives into that flow.”
In addition, he continued, ISIS has become “pretty skilled at [producing] phony passports, so they can travel ostensibly as legitimate travelers as well.”
In December, House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said the U.S. intelligence community “has identified already individuals tied to terrorist organizations in Syria that want to exploit and get into the United States through the refugee process.”