State Dept.: We Expect to Welcome 5,000 to 8,000 Syrian Refugees in FY16

Susan Jones | August 25, 2015 | 7:15am EDT
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A Syrian migrant mother celebrates reaching the shore of Eftalou beach in Greece after crossing the Aegean from Turkey on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. Greece this year has been overwhelmed by record numbers of migrants arriving on its eastern Aegean islands, with more than 160,000 landing so far. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

( - It was the final question at Monday's State Department news briefing: How many Syrian refugees does the United States expect to take in this year?

"We expect to welcome between 1,000 and 2,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year, and 5,000 to 8,000 Syrian refugees in next fiscal year, 2016," spokesman John Kirby responded.

"There are 15,000 Syrian refugee referrals in the pipeline from UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). You know, we continue to be a leader in this regard, both in terms of refugees we bring in, but also the amount of money that we contribute to the effort.

"As we've said before, that's not the metric of success, here, though it's a -- you know, accepting refugees is one aspect. But really, it's about helping, in short -- because most of these people want to go home, and you can expect that that's understandable.

"And so, what we're really committed to is helping to foster the kind of political transition inside Syria, so that it is a safe environment for Syrian people to return, including the millions that are seeking refuge in Turkey right now."

As reported earlier this year, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) warned that an influx of refugees from Syria could endanger Americans:

"This is a very dangerous and reckless policy, in my judgment," McCaul told Fox News's Sean Hannity on Feb. 19.

According to McCaul, "ISIS has telegraphed that they want to exploit the refugee process to gain entrance into the West and United States. And we need to stop that." He said the FBI doesn't have the resources to properly vet all the refugees.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says more than 4 million Syrians have fled their country and are now registered as refugees. This has put a huge strain on neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Many Syrians are now fleeing to Greece, Italy and further north into other Europeans countries.

In Europe, Germany and Sweden already have resettled tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

As of Aug. 18, the UNHCR had submitted the names of 16,286 Syrian refugees to the United States for resettlement consideration. (UNHCR defines resettlement as the transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another nation that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent settlement.)

In terms of overall refugees, the United States is the world's top resettlement country.

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