Yesterday, the White House announced that the US had met President Obama’s goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country; it did so ahead of schedule.
One year ago Obama had sought a sixfold increase in the number of Syrian refugees provided safe haven in the United States. After a slow start, the administration was able to hit the goal about a month early and just a few weeks before Obama convenes a summit on refugees during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly. He would have been hard-pressed to make the case for other countries to do more with the U.S. failing to reach a goal that amounts to about 2% of the 480,000 Syrian refugees in need of resettlement. Millions more Syrians have fled to neighboring states such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon and to countries in Europe since the civil war broke out in 2011.
Over 1 million Syrian refugees made their way to Germany, where the resultant social shock, and surge in violent terrorist attacks, have led to a plunge in Angela Merkel's approval rating. That, however, has not deterred the US from seeking to admit thousands of refugees.
“On behalf of the president and his administration, I extend the warmest of welcomes to each and every one of our Syrian arrivals, as well as the many other refugees resettled this year from all over the world,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a statement. More from the statement:
Less than a year ago, in response to an historic global refugee crisis, involving millions of Syrians in flight from violence and conflict, President Obama directed his Administration to increase the number of Syrian refugees provided safe haven in the United States. While refugee admissions are only a small part of our broader humanitarian efforts in Syria and the region, the President understood the important message this decision would send, not just to the Syrian people but to the broader international community. As such, he set a goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year. Millions have been displaced by the violence in the region, but this decision still represented a six-fold increase from the prior year, and was a meaningful step that we hope to build upon.
Today, I am pleased to announce that we will meet this goal more than a month ahead of schedule. Our 10,000th Syrian refugee will arrive this afternoon. On behalf of the President and his Administration, I extend the warmest of welcomes to each and every one of our Syrian arrivals, as well as the many other refugees resettled this year from all over the world. We will admit at least 85,000 refugees in total this year, including vulnerable individuals and families from Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, Ukraine, and many other countries.
Rice said the summit in New York City will highlight the contributions the U.S. and other nations have made to help refugees. She said the U.S. has committed to working with the international community to increase funding for humanitarian assistance and double the number of refugees afforded the opportunity to resettle.
As AP admits, the increase in Syrian refugees also comes at a time of heightened national security concerns following extremist attacks in the U.S. and abroad. The Obama administration has said that refugees fleeing war and persecution are the most scrutinized of all immigrants who come into the United States. The process typically takes 12 months to 18 months and includes in-person interviews and a review of biographical and biometric information.
According to NBC, the top destination for Syrian refugees arriving in the U.S. is the state of Michigan. More than a 10th of the 10,000 Syrians admitted this fiscal year at the urging of the Obama administration are headed there, according to State Department figures.
Most of the 1,036 new arrivals are likely to settle in and around Detroit, which has long been a magnet for Arab immigrants. This despite the fact that Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder suspended efforts last November to bring more long-suffering Syrians to his state after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.
Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton told NBC News the governor "never suspended refugee resettlement" and is not opposed to more Syrian refugees settling in Michigan. "The governor suspended efforts to bring in additional refugees above and beyond the amount Michigan normally receives," Heaton said in an email. "This increase in Syrian refugee resettlement is not surprising as our state continues to be a welcoming home for refugees who go on to contribute to our economic comeback and Michigan's overall quality of life."
Close on Michigan's heels is California, which has taken in 1,030 Syrians between Oct. 1 of last year and Aug. 29, the federal figures show. Arizona and Texas, two red states led by Republican governors who have flat-out said they don't want Syrian refugees because they supposedly pose a security risk, are next on the list having taken in 766 and 735 people, respectively, the figures show.
Those states were followed by Pennsylvania (600), Illinois (569), Florida (542) and New York (538), the figures show.
However, as Breitbart noted overnight, there is a possibility that thousands of the Syrian refugees may end up doing something else entirely: noting that in a previously little-noticed video from February at the Clinton Global Initiative, former President Bill Clinton suggested that the U.S. use Syrian refugees to rebuild Detroit. Since the decision what to do with the Syrian refugees will ultimately be made by America's next president, who may well be Hillary Clinton, this is significant.
“The truth is that the big loser in this over the long run is going to be Syria. This is an enormous opportunity for Americans,” Bill Clinton said about the Syrian migrant crisis.
Detroit has 10,000 empty, structurally sound houses—10,000. And lot of jobs to be had repairing those houses. Detroit just came out of bankruptcy and the mayor’s trying to do an innovative sort of urban homesteading program there. But it just gives you an example of what could be done. And I think any of us who have ever had any personal experience with either Syrian Americans or Syrian refugees think it’s a pretty good deal.
As Julia Hahn notes, it is unclear from the video why Clinton seems to think it would be better to fill these Detroit jobs with imported foreign migrants rather than unemployed Americans already living there, who could perhaps benefit from good-paying jobs.
We may soon find out: Hillary Clinton has called for a 550 percent expansion to the importation of Syrian refugees. Based on the minimum figures she has put forth thus far, a President Hillary Clinton could potentially import a population of refugees (620,000) that nearly equals the population of Detroit (677,116).
Here a quick note: in the US, 91.4% of recent refugees from the Middle East are on food stamps, and 68.3% are on cash welfare, according to data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services.
This may be something else for the American public to consider in the 69 days remaining ahead of the presidential election.