U.S. accepts record number of Syrian refugees in May; High speed of processing applications criticized
The Unites States government has granted asylum to more than 500 Syrian refugees so far in May, but some are questioning the speed in which the authorities are processing applications and why there seems to be no Christians among those approved.
"The Obama administration is on full throttle to admit as many people as possible before the time clock runs out on them," said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, as quoted by The Washington Times. "This is the classic scenario when political expediency trumps prudence, and someone slips through who shouldn't have, and tragedy ensues."
Officials seem to expediting the admittance of refugees to meet President Barack Obama's target of 10,000 asylum seekers by Sept. 30. According to the report, the State Department set a new single-day record on Monday by approving 225 applications, a number that exceeds approvals for the whole month of January or February. The government approved 80 the previous day.
Critics are fearful because they deem that in order to meet a political goal, the government seems to be cutting corners. However, officials say that they are still screening applicants thoroughly -- it is because of improvements in their screening methods that are able to speed up the process.
As of May 24, 2,540 applications have reportedly been approved.
According to Front Page Mag, of the 2,235 Syrian refugees who were admitted to and have been resettled in the U.S since October -- prior to the 305 approved on Monday and Tuesday -- 2,170 people are Sunni Muslim, 27 are "other Muslims," 17 are Shi'a Muslims, 10 are Yazidis, and one is said to be of "other religion." Only 10 are Christians: three are Catholics, two are Orthodox, one is a Greek Orthodox, and the other four identified as being simply "Christian."
The publication also said that, as of May 23, the 499 refugees from Syria who were admitted this month were composed of 495 Sunni Muslims while the remainder declared themselves as "Moslem" in the State Departent Refugee Processing Center records.
The U.S. uses data gathered by U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, when processing applications. However, many Christians avoid registering with the agency for fear that this might become the target of retribution.
"Without doubt, Syrians of all confessions are being victimized by this savage war and are facing unimaginable suffering," Sen. Tom Cotton said in March, as quoted by CNS News. "But only Christians and other religious minorities are the deliberate targets of systematic persecution and genocide. It's well-established that many religious minorities in Syria are very reluctant to register as refugees with the United Nations because they fear facing even more persecution."