The Obama administration expects to reach the target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees within this fiscal year — October 1 — as early as Monday, according to a senior U.S. official.
As of Sunday, 9,902 Syrian refugees have been re-settled in the U.S. in the period running from September 30 of last year through now.
On whether the 10,000 mark will be met Monday, the U.S. official said it depends on how many arrivals they get.
It is not a surprise the 10,000 number will be met. CNN reported 10 days ago the administration was expected to mark the milestone of meeting that mark within the coming weeks.
At that time a State Department official said that the administration can — and likely will — accept more than 10,000 applicants, as the goal is “a floor, not a ceiling,” and admissions are expected to continue at their current pace for the remaining six weeks.
President Barack Obama set the goal last fall, as the migrant crisis in Europe and the Middle East was hitting critical mass last summer, and leaders in the international community were calling on the U.S. and other world powers to do more to help the growing displaced population.
Initially, there were concerns about the administration’s ability to meet the new target.
The U.S. had only admitted about 1,900 refugees in the first four years of the conflict, and was facing a backlog of UN case referrals.
But admissions spiked dramatically starting in May, after the U.S. beefed up staffing at key processing locations in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, accelerating the security vetting and interview process for applicants.
While meeting the target is likely to be touted as a major achievement for the administration, not everyone is happy about the accomplishment.
Critics of the resettlement program — including Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump — have long expressed concern about the potential for ISIS or other terrorist groups to exploit refugee flows to reach the West.
State Department officials have stood by the rigor of their vetting process, insisting refugees are the most thoroughly screened group of travelers to the US.