US meets goal of admitting 10,000 Syria refugees ahead of time
National Security Advisor Susan Rice said the number represented a "six-fold increase from the prior year," and called it "a meaningful step that we hope to build upon."
Washington: The United States said it would welcome its 10,000th Syrian refugee of this fiscal year today, meeting a controversial target amount more than a month ahead of schedule.
"On behalf of the president and his administration, I extend the warmest of welcomes to each and every one of our Syrian arrivals, as well as the many other refugees resettled this year from all over the world," National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a statement.
Rice said the number represented a "six-fold increase from the prior year," and called it "a meaningful step that we hope to build upon."
She noted that refugee admissions represented only "a small part of our broader humanitarian efforts in Syria and the region."
The United States has traditionally been by far the world's most generous host for refugees but has been criticized by activists for moving too slowly to respond to the Syrian crisis, which has dragged on for more than five years.
Frontline states like Lebanon and Jordan meanwhile have been all but overwhelmed, with each home to hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the arrival of streams of unvetted migrants on Europe's shores provoking a crisis.
President Barack Obama's opponents meanwhile warn some of those admitted could be dangerous, with extremists exploiting the opportunity to gain entry to the US.
The Syrian refugees are chosen from United Nations camps and then vetted by US security and intelligence agencies. They are classified as "vulnerable," such as widows, the elderly and disabled.
Overall, the United States will admit at least 85,000 refugees over the year, Rice said, mentioning that others would come from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Myanmar and Somalia.