The Obama administration cannot provide a breakdown of Syrians who have been granted refugee status in the United States as a result of religious persecution.
The administration is pushing forward to exceed its goal of 10,000 Syrian refugees by September 30, and will need to admit about 3,200 refugees between now and their target date to reach 10k. President Obama pledged last year to increase the annual number of refugees the U.S. will accept globally to 85,000 from 70,000.
During a conference call with reporters Tuesday, administration officials discussed the refugee program and the administration’s efforts to bring in more refugees in the coming months.
“We believe this goal benefits not only refugees and their families, but strengthens communities and our nation as a whole and refugee resettlement is a reflection of our core value of who we are as a country, providing protection to individuals fleeing persecution on the basis of their race, religion, political opinions or membership in a social group,” said Robert Carey, Health and Human Services Director of Refugee Resettlement.
“Most are Muslims — over 99% are Muslims,” said Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration Anne Richard when asked about the religious breakdown of the refugees.
When Sec. Richard was asked what percent “are fleeing (because they) say religious persecution,” Richard responded that she did “not have that breakdown.”
“In Iraq we began processing refugee resettlement cases in Erbil in December 2015. Thanks to these efforts and through the coordinated efforts of the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, we can now say that we have 8,000 Syrian refugees so far this year and that we are very confident that we will welcome at least 10,000 refugees from Syria by the end of this fiscal year,” Richard told reporters.
She added, “Monthly totals have climbed from low numbers of refugees admitted in the first half of the year to higher numbers recently.”
Prior to USICS’s announcement of how many Syrian refugees had been admitted, as of late July, 6,726 Syrian refugees were admitted into the United States for fiscal year 2016, but only 23 of these refugees are Christians, CNS News reported.
Among the refugees who arrived in July, 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 Syrian refugee who arrived at 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 rest of the 78 Syrian arrivals (1.1 percent) are 49 refugees who were described as “Moslem,” 17 Shi’a Muslims, 10 Yazidis, one described as having “no religion” and one “other religion.”