November 19th, 2015
Syrian refugees in Belgrade, Serbia, are waiting for an opportunity to travel north to cross the border with Hungary, entering the EU [Source: AP]
The on-going conflict in Syria and the recent refugee crisis has given rise to anti-refugee sentiments in the U.S. with more than half of the nation’s governors calling for a ban on admitting refugees into the country. Entry to the U.S. as a refugee is an arduous process and requires months and even years of screening before a decision regarding admissibility to the country is granted.
In her November 17, 2015 piece for the Washington Post, Carol Morello, the diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, covering the State Department highlighted 3 important facts about how the U.S. resettles Syrian refugees. In this blog, we have broken down these facts even further for your perusal:
- # of people who died since the violence broke out in Syria in 2011? More than 250,000
- # of people who have fled their homes? At least 11 million people in the country of 22 million have fled their homes. Syrians are now the world’s largest refugee population, according to the United Nations. Most are struggling to find safe haven in Europe.
- # of Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement in the U.S. since the conflict began in 2011: 2,200
- Rate of Syrian refugees arriving in U.S. per week: 45
- # of refugees to be accepted by the U.S.: 10,000
- # of Vietnamese refugees accepted each year during the height of the Vietnam War: 200,000
- # of months required to vet and screen a Syrian refugee before being admitted to the U.S.: 18 – 24 months
- % of refugees who are single males of combat age: 2%
- What is one factor for considering a refugee’s admissibility to U.S.? Whether they already have family in the U.S.
- How does the U.S. prioritize refugees? The vulnerable: women and children, the elderly, those who’ve been tortured, those who require modern medical treatment.
- Children represent half the refugees accepted to the U.S.
- Adults over 60 represent a quarter of the refugees accepted.
- How does the U.S. government screen and conduct background checks of refugees? Names, birthdates and fingerprints are run through databases, information is double checked against classified and unclassified records for consistency, face-to-face interviews with applicants are held at regional centers in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt. If need be, refugee specialists with U.S. departments of State, Homeland Security and the National Terrorism Center, will travel to refugee camps to conduct the interviews.
- Who makes the final decision of whether a refugee’s case is approved or rejected? The U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
- Do governors determine where a refugee settles once admitted to the U.S.? No.
- Who determines where a refugee settles once admitted to the U.S.? Faith-based and non-profit groups.
- How do faith-based and nonprofit groups help the refugees? Through federal funds allocated to these groups, they are able to welcome the arrive refugees and assist them with their relocation by finding them housing, enrolling them in English classes, and job search.
- What other services and benefits do refugees receive once admitted to the U.S.? They are eligible for Medicaid and become permanent residents which permits them to work.
- How long does it take for refugees admitted to the U.S. to be eligible for a green card? One year.
- How long does it take for refugees admitted to the U.S. to apply for U.S. citizens? Five years.
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