The Obama administration has set a goal of hiring 150,000 refugees from around the world by year’s end to combat “the most significant security threat facing this country,” according to a presidential memorandum. (Reuters)
During my three years as a U.S. official, I helped set up the refugee resettlement program for the country, including working with State’s Office of Refugee Resettlement to vet individuals who were trying to come here legally as refugees.
Since then, I’ve often heard critics refer to the refugees I helped create with my colleagues and the thousands of Americans and others who helped train, assist, fund and advocate for this program.
In recent years, critics have described the program as flawed. The refugee resettlement program was too bureaucratic; too costly; too slow in taking in new arrivals; and sometimes failed to ensure they were not susceptible to terrorism.
In the new memorandum set to be released Thursday, the Obama administration has set a goal of hiring 150,000 refugees from around the world by year’s end to combat “the most significant security threat facing this country.”
And here’s the kicker: “U.S. agencies and private sector partners will be required to help resettle as many as 20,000 displaced individuals over the course of 2016 and 2017.”
And they’ll be “assist[ing] displaced individuals with their resettled applications.” It should be noted there’s no language in this policy proposal that specifically refers to refugee resettlement — only that it’s about creating a “safe zone” in Syria to house the displaced.
[The new U.S. refugee policy — for better or for worse]
So why is it all about “helping” refugees? Well, many critics think the resettlement program only helps those already in the United States and that the United States just isn’t ready to handle the enormous burden that would inevitably result from tens of thousands of refugees from the world.
On Friday, the president’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, attempted to refute critics. He pointed out that the administration had already hired 50,000 private and public sector workers in addition to 25,000 U.S. military personnel to support the program. He also offered up a list of resources available to resettle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in the United States:
It’s a small program — we’re talking about less than a thousand people over the course of the next 10 years. Yet, the administration has said the refugees that it would like
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