According to a recent Daily Caller article, President Trump has admitted 1,401 Syrian refugees since taking office. This figure, it claims, is more than double the number of Syrian refugees (625) resettled by President Obama during the same period last year. However, the reality is that the majority of these refugees were probably approved for admission into the United States before President Trump even took office. Moreover, President Trump’s actions clearly show that he does not see the admission of massive numbers of refugees as a viable option.
In fiscal year 2016, the Obama Administration pledged to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. During the first 8 months of the fiscal year, it admitted 2,805 refugees. The administration admitted nearly 10,000 Syrian refugees during the remainder of the fiscal year, exceeding its target by 20.5 percent. Before leaving office, Obama announced his intentions in fiscal year 2017 to dramatically increase refugee admissions to 110,000, a 30 percent increase over fiscal year 2016. He took this action without regard to the difficulties involved in vetting applicants from Syria and other hotbeds for terrorism. In fact, on its way out the door, the Obama administration put a 90-day cap on the time available for vetting refuges and mounted a surge operation intended to bring as many Syrian refugees as possible to the United States.
During a campaign debate with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, President Trump said “tens of thousands” of Syrian refugees are pouring into the country, and he warned, “They represent a great Trojan horse that will spawn future terrorist attacks.” Even Jeh Johnson, Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security said, “We know that organizations like ISIL might like to exploit this [Syrian refugee resettlement] program.”
As president, Trump followed through with his campaign promises and sought to ensure the proper vetting of refugees to protect America from those with ties to terrorism. On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order that suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days and suspended admissions of Syrian refugees since they could not be properly vetted. After that order was blocked by activist federal judges, President Trump issued a new one that reestablished the 120-day temporary suspension of USRAP.
President Trump’s executive actions did actually halt the number of Syrian refugees entering the country until they were blocked. During President Trump’s first full week in the White House, refugees from the six restricted countries totaled 34 percent of all refugees then seeking admission to the United States. The week after President Trump signed the first executive order, refugee admissions from the six restricted countries practically stopped. They resumed after the orders were blocked.
While the number of Syrian refugees appears to have doubled under President Trump, the reality is the surge in refugee admissions appears attributable to the Obama administration and activist federal judges. Rather than secure our borders and ensure the safety of the American people, they would rather play fast and loose with the vetting process to further their policy agenda.