STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

US admitted just 44 Syrian refugees in last 6 months

As President Donald Trump and his national security team debate their futuret plans for Syria, one element of US poli...

Posted: Apr 19, 2018 8:38 AM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 8:38 AM

As President Donald Trump and his national security team debate their futuret plans for Syria, one element of US policy is patently clear: The administration is not willing to accept large numbers of Syrian refugees fleeing the brutal civil war in the country.

Since the start of the 2018 fiscal year last October, the US has resettled just 44 Syrian refugees, according to State Department data. That's down from about 6,000 in the same time frame last year, most of whom were admitted before Trump's inauguration.

"The process is a little bit slower because additional vetting mechanisms have been put in place," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert explained to reporters in a briefing Tuesday.

But the stall in refugee resettlement worries refugee advocates, and strikes some lawmakers -- particularly Democrats -- as hypocritical given the recent US strikes against alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria.

At a congressional hearing on Wednesday, members questioned State Department officials about the policy, suggesting it was inconsistent for the administration to intervene militarily on behalf of Syrians affected by chemical weapons attacks while limiting the resettlement of other vulnerable Syrian civilians caught up in the conflict.

"Doesn't it present a challenge for the world to take us seriously?" asked Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island.

Hans Van de Weerd, vice president of US programs at the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement, "The U.S. cannot bomb Syria in defense of Syrian civilians while doing nothing to help those desperately seeking safety with the chance to rebuild their lives elsewhere."

"More civilians were killed in the Douma chemical weapon attack than have been resettled in the U.S. as refugees this fiscal year," he noted. "If the U.S. really wants to help Syrians, it shouldn't be slamming the door shut."

While the drop in admissions has been dramatic and comes at a critical time in the protracted Syrian conflict, it shouldn't come as a surprise.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump was highly critical of the Obama administration's decision to increase its intake of Syrian refugees, saying terror groups like ISIS could exploit refugee flows to launch attacks on the US homeland.

Then, in the early days of his administration, Trump implemented a travel ban, which included a pause in overall refugee admissions and a near-total moratorium on people coming to the United States from Syria.

The ban was later revised in part and faces ongoing legal challenges in the US court system.

Last fall, the administration announced it would accept no more than 45,000 total refugees in FY2018, the lowest ceiling in decades for the US refugee admission program and fewer than half the number allowed by the Obama administration in its final year.

Since then, the Trump administration has accepted just over 11,000 refugees from nearly 60 countries, including the 44 from Syria.

The administration's stated goal when it comes to Syrian refugees is to help stabilize areas of Syria liberated by ISIS and encourage a political solution to the civil war that will allow the displaced to return to their homes.

It's a principle that Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, alluded to Tuesday when she said that "many refugees would rather stay closer to home than get uprooted and go to Buffalo or Wisconsin."

But administration officials admit that such an outcome depends on world leaders securing a political solution to the civil war, one that would theoretically bring an end to President Bashar al-Assad's rule, and which has evaded the international community for over seven years.

At a speech in California in January in which he called the Syrian refugee situation "a humanitarian crisis," then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged, "there is no way to effectively facilitate a large-scale, safe and voluntary return of refugees without a political solution."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 143879

Reported Deaths: 3676
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto956999
Hinds9541193
Harrison6825105
Jackson6068116
Rankin523796
Lee480294
Madison4602102
Forrest367185
Jones344687
Lauderdale3343142
Lafayette313347
Washington3088106
Lamar281849
Bolivar237883
Oktibbeha237760
Lowndes228362
Neshoba2171113
Panola211047
Marshall207247
Leflore200789
Pontotoc193227
Monroe189577
Sunflower189554
Lincoln183964
Warren172157
Tate163349
Union160125
Pike160058
Copiah158840
Yazoo150638
Scott149929
Coahoma147342
Itawamba145533
Alcorn143724
Simpson143553
Pearl River142967
Prentiss139526
Grenada136344
Adams135948
Leake131643
Holmes124461
George121623
Tippah120930
Covington117234
Winston115824
Wayne115722
Hancock114137
Marion110746
Attala106233
Tishomingo106042
Newton102829
Chickasaw102332
Tallahatchie94727
Clarke88253
Clay86726
Jasper81121
Walthall74328
Stone72314
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71213
Carroll70514
Lawrence69914
Noxubee69017
Smith68616
Yalobusha67926
Perry65225
Tunica59519
Greene58422
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis54117
Humphreys52518
Amite50814
Benton48217
Quitman4786
Webster41614
Kemper40815
Wilkinson38422
Jefferson34011
Franklin3185
Sharkey30617
Choctaw3057
Issaquena1114
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 234080

Reported Deaths: 3459
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson30620491
Mobile19306358
Tuscaloosa12501148
Madison12410146
Montgomery12040232
Shelby980576
Baldwin826984
Lee753964
Morgan618247
Calhoun5997113
Etowah590564
Marshall581953
Houston507038
DeKalb463535
Cullman412636
Limestone404544
St. Clair398455
Elmore393961
Lauderdale382953
Walker349096
Talladega335942
Colbert296341
Jackson291924
Blount276336
Autauga263439
Franklin244833
Coffee233415
Dale226654
Dallas220231
Russell21803
Chilton216937
Covington212533
Escambia194431
Tallapoosa169290
Chambers168048
Pike155514
Clarke155419
Marion134535
Winston123723
Lawrence122436
Geneva11748
Marengo116924
Barbour116110
Pickens115318
Bibb114217
Butler113741
Randolph99821
Cherokee98924
Hale91631
Washington90018
Clay89423
Fayette84416
Henry8426
Lowndes78729
Monroe76811
Cleburne74414
Crenshaw70330
Macon70020
Bullock69019
Conecuh66814
Perry6686
Lamar6267
Wilcox62418
Sumter55322
Choctaw41713
Greene40217
Coosa3074
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 34°
Columbus
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 31°
Oxford
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 34°
Starkville
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 28°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather