Fiscal year 2014 has been underway since October 1st, and in his Presidential Determination, Obama says he wants 70,000 refugees to be admitted to the US in this fiscal year.
Only about 2,000 Syrian slots have been mentioned, however it seems that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and other contractors are lobbying for the President to go above the 70,000 ceiling to accommodate a larger number of Syrians due to the “extraordinary situation.”
I don’t know if Obama can do this without Congressional consultation, but even if he has to at least tell Congress, historically Congress hasn’t paid one bit of attention to how many and from where refugees are admitted. Maybe they would pay attention if readers here contacted their US Senators and Members of Congress on the subject of Syrians.
One stumbling block in the Catholic Bishop’s scheme is the material support of terrorism bar discussed here by Anastasia Brown, the USCCB’s point person on the refugee program.
Here is the news from the Catholic Sentinel (emphasis is mine):
With an estimated 6.5 million Syrians — one-third of the country’s population — displaced from their homes, aid agencies are scrambling to meet needs that go beyond traditional emergency assistance.
As to the next steps for Syrians, Aleinikoff said groundwork has been laid for permanent resettlement for some refugees in other countries, including the United States.
During 2014, the UNHCR, which manages the initial screening and referral of refugees to host countries, hopes to find new homes for 30,000 Syrians. That 30,000 would be in formal, permanent resettlement, such as to the United States. Additional people would be relocated temporarily outside the Middle East, he said. Germany, for example has offered to take in thousands of Syrians temporarily.
“Of 2 million, that’s not a huge number,” Aleinikoff admitted. “But it’s part of the way for other countries to share the hosting burden.”
Anastasia Brown, the director of resettlement services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services, told CNS the UNHCR met in October with representatives of agencies that resettle refugees to begin planning for processing Syrians.
Where in the US will the Catholics resettle Syrians?
More than a year ago, MRS began assessing where it might place Syrian refugees in the U.S., she said. MRS typically handles about 26 percent of all refugees brought to the United States, she added.
The U.S. typically does not commit to a firm number of refugees it will accept from a given situation, Brown explained. In October, President Barack Obama signed off on a commitment to accept 70,000 refugees worldwide in the 2014 fiscal year. That’s just about the number of refugees who were settled in the country in 2013, which had the same 70,000 cap.
Catholics: we want more than 70,000 this year!
Brown said because of the long vetting process for refugees to be admitted, there are already plenty of people “in the pipeline” to meet that number, without accounting for more than a few Syrians. She said MRS and other advocacy agencies are encouraging the U.S. to admit Syrians without regard for the 70,000 limit because of the extraordinary situation.
Fly in their ointment: security screening!
Brown said she’s also concerned about how the U.S. will apply its policy of not accepting immigrants and refugees who are found to have given “material support” to individuals involved in a very broad definition of terrorism. That might exclude someone who gave her son a coat, Brown said, if that son was found to have been part of a revolutionary organization.
Do you feel more confident to learn that the UN does the initial screening? Gee, don’t you wonder how those Kentucky Iraqi terrorists got through the “vetting process?”
Syrians to be given refugee status will first be referred by the UNHCR to a host country, which then will apply its own vetting process. In the United States, that means background security checks, a personal interview and other steps, Brown said. The process from UNHCR referral to a refugee arriving in the United States generally is no faster than nine months, she said.
In case you are wondering, I should note here that the USCCB is NOT going to tell Obama they only want the Christian Syrians brought to the US—-Muslims of all varieties are as welcome to them as are the suffering Christians.
Photo is from this 2012 story about Brown going to Australia (a trip you most likely contributed to because the majority of the USCCB’s budget is paid by the US taxpayer).