(CNSNews.com) – With ten weeks to go until the end of the fiscal year, the Obama administration continues to admit Syrian refugees at an accelerated pace, and has now exceeded two-thirds of President Obama’s target of 10,000 by September 30.
The proportion of Christians among those resettled continues to languish below half of one percent, while other non-Sunnis account for just over one percent.
As of Monday, 1,515 Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war in their homeland had been admitted since the beginning of July, and a total of 6,726 since FY 2016 began on October 1, according to State Department Refugee Processing Center data.
Of the July arrivals, 1,501 (99.0 percent) were Sunnis, and three (0.19 percent) were Christians. The other 11 (0.72 percent) were other Muslims.
Of the 6,726 total Syrian refugee arrivals since the beginning of FY 2016, 6,625 (98.4 percent) were Sunnis and 23 (0.3 percent) were Christians – including 15 described simply as “Christian,” five Catholics, two Orthodox and one Greek Orthodox adherent.
The remaining 78 (1.1 percent) comprised 49 refugees described in the data simply as “Moslem,” 17 Shi’a Muslims, 10 Yazidis, one of “no religion” and one “other religion.”
To reach its 10,000 target by September 30, the administration will need to admit average of 1,597 each month for July, August and September. With a week of this month to go, and 1,515 admitted as of early Monday, the July target looks to be easily within reach.
Of the 1,515 refugees from Syria admitted since the beginning of July, 363 (23.9 percent) are men between the ages of 14 and 50, another 322 (21.2 percent) are women aged 14-50, and 784 (51.7 percent) are children aged under 14 – 371 boys and 413 girls.
Their ethnic breakdown is: 1,472 Arabs, 22 Kurds, 18 Turkmen and three Armenians.
Of the 6,726 admitted since in FY 2016, 1,661 (24.6 percent) are men 14-50, while 1,537 (22.8 percent) are women aged 14-50. Another 3,240 (48.1 percent) are children aged under 14, made up of 1,658 boys and 1,582 girls.
Of the 6,726, 6,159 are Arabs, 497 are Kurds, 49 are Turkmen, four are Turks, three are Armenian, two are Syriac, one is Assyrian and 11 are “other.”
The 6,726 Syrian refugees have been resettled across the nation, with the largest groups going to Michigan (782), California (603), Arizona (512), Texas (471), Pennsylvania (429), Illinois (421), New York (367), Florida (329), North Carolina (312) and Ohio (305).
Obama has rejected Republican concerns about security vetting for Syrian refugees, saying that “they are subjected to the most rigorous process conceivable.”
“There is an entire apparatus of all of our law enforcement agencies and the center that we use for countering terrorism to check and ensure that a refugee is not admitted that might cause us harm,” he said shortly after the Paris terror attack last November prompted fresh concerns about terrorist groups using refugee programs to infiltrate operatives into the West.
The administration says the process takes an average of 18-24 months, although an accelerated effort launched last spring aimed to reduce that to around three months in order to meet the president’s 10,000 target.
Last October FBI Director James Comey raised questions about the difficulties involved in checking backgrounds of refugee status applicants from Syria, telling a House Homeland Security Committee hearing “we can only query against that which we have collected.”
“If someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interests reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home but we’re not going to – there’ll be nothing to show up, because we have no record of that person,” Comey said. “You can only query what you’ve collected.”
The Syrian refugee issue has emerged as a contentious one in the presidential election campaign.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has pledged to increase significantly the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States if she becomes president.
On CBS News’ Face the Nation last September, she said she would like to see numbers rise from Obama’s 10,000 target, to 65,000.
“We’re facing the worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II and I think the United States has to do more,” she said. “I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000 to 65,000 and begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in.”
Her GOP rival, Donald Trump, has called Clinton’s proposals “a better, bigger version of the legendary Trojan Horse.”
“The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why she believes immigration from these dangerous countries should be increased without any effective system to screen who we are bringing in,” he said in a speech last June.
“We have to stop the tremendous flow of Syrian refugees into the United States,” Trump said. “We don’t know who they are, they have no documentation, and we don’t know what they’re planning.”