WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (UPI) — President Barack Obama‘s goal of the United States taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year was reached on Monday, the White House said.
The Obama administration’s objective was to reach the refugee goal by the beginning of the next fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1.
Despite the topic being a controversial one in politics at the moment, the president’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice defended the accomplishment.
“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,” Rice said in a statement. “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.”
Rice also praised federal immigration staff for meeting the president’s dual goals “that we both increase our refugee admissions and strengthen the integrity of the refugee program, including its stringent security screening protocols.”
Though formerly supported by both parties, the refugee program has become more controversial since the 2001 terror attacks and more recent Islamic militant attacks around the world. Rice framed the on-going program as a humanitarian one that pays dividends for the United States diplomatically.
“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 also said President Obama would use September’s UN General Assembly session to “convene a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, highlighting the continued leadership of the United States on humanitarian issues and the significant contributions partner countries have made this year.”