With three months left in fiscal year 2016, the U.S. has resettled just 58 percent of its overall refugee goal, and 52 percent of its Syrian refugee target.
Considering June’s admissions numbers, the U.S. will indeed hit its Syrian target, but may come up short on the overall goal. In the next three months we will likely see a massive admission haul for the administration hoping to reach its goals before the clock runs out.
Nearly 2,400 Syrian refugees were resettled in the U.S. in June. That’s up from about 1,100 refugees in May, bringing the FY 2016 total to 5,186 Syrians—about half the overall 10,000 goal. The U.S. must resettle about 1,700 Syrians monthly in July, August, and September to reach that target.
After a big month of resettlement in June, the goal of 10,000 is definitely attainable. Administration officials have consistently said throughout the year that the Syrian resettlement operation was on track to hit 10,000 despite the dismal numbers early on in the fiscal year.
Refugee admissions normally pick up in the second half of the year, but the spike in numbers in the final four months of this fiscal year has been remarkable. The huge increase is partly thanks to the State Department and USCIS deploying more staff to Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, where great numbers of Syrian refugees are temporarily settled until they can find a permanent home.
The interview surge earlier this year resulted in thousands more Syrians placed into the resettlement pipeline with the hopes they would be in America by the end of September. It looks like that surge has worked and resettlement totals will cross the 10,000 mark in September.
However, it should be noted that since the start of the Syrian civil war, the U.S. has resettled just 7,000 Syrians—a miniscule number compared to the 4.7 million registered Syrian refugees with UNHCR. More must be done to find safe avenues for Syrian families on the run from persecution and terror.
Syria receives the bulk of the attention when it comes to refugees, but it’s certainly not the only source of displaced individuals. The U.S. planned to resettle 75,000 non-Syrian refugees (85,000 in total) in 2016, and that goal is looking increasingly unrealistic.
The overall refugee goal—85,000—is barely half met, with a total of 49,601 refugees resettled.
With three months left to reach the goal, the U.S. must resettle 35,000 more refugees (11,800 monthly). Every month so far has been below that threshold, making it very difficult for the U.S. to ramp up admissions in time to reach this goal.
Meeting Syrian refugee targets is important, but it is also important that we reach our overall refugee resettlement goal. With global resettlement needs at unprecedented levels, failing to reach our targets puts in question our ability to effectively respond to massive humanitarian challenges.
Op-ed by Matthew La Corte; originally in the Huffington Post