IN JUNE, the U.S. accepted more than 2,300 Syrian refugees, out of which only 8 were Syrian Christians, the majority Muslims. Syria was 10% Christian before the war. The Christians have been targeted and persecuted by several jihad groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda linked al-Nusrah.
Washington Times The U.S. accepted more than 2,300 Syrian refugees in June alone, sending the fiscal year total soaring past the 5,000 mark and putting the government on track to surpass President Obama’s goal of 10,000 by the end of September, but raising questions about screening out potential terrorists.
June’s numbers set a monthly record for the Homeland Security and State departments, which committed resources received earlier this year to streamline the process — in what critics say amounted to corner-cutting — to get back on track toward Mr. Obama’s political goal.
Of those accepted in June, more than 99 percent are Sunni Muslims. Just eight identified themselves as Christian, eight identified as a non-Sunni form of Islam, and one reported having no religious affiliation. Those numbers have drawn criticism because the percentage of Sunni Muslims is far greater than that of the Syrian population as a whole, which is about 75 percent Sunni.
Michigan, which has a large Muslim enclave around Detroit, accepted more than 10 percent of the refugees in June. The South is increasingly a destination as well, with massive increases in Roanoke, Virginia; Columbia, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Nashville, Tennessee.
Boise, Idaho, had the biggest surge by percentage, jumping from one refugee in the previous eight months to 20 by the end of June — a total of four more families.
The quickened pace of approvals also has analysts worried. They say nothing has been done to improve screening, so it’s unclear why the government feels more comfortable moving faster. “It should be of great concern that these refugees are being processed so rapidly now,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies.
“It is no easier for the U.S. government to vet these people now than it was when FBI Director [James B.] Comey made his statement that it can’t be done. What has changed is there is now enormous pressure on the officers who are reviewing these cases to do it quickly. And that never ends well,” she said.
Republicans have accused international officials of skewing the pool toward Muslims, filtering out potential Christian refugees. But the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says it is not manipulating the numbers, and few Christians are registering with it in the first place.
IN MAY, the U.S. admitted 1,035 Syrian Muslim refugees and only 2 Syrian Christian refugees.
CNS News The number of Syrian refugees admitted into the United States jumped to 1,037 during May – an increase of 130 percent over the previous month – but the proportion of Christians among them remains miniscule: two Christians (0.19 percent) compared to 1,035 Muslims.
Of the 2,099 Syrian refugees admitted so far this year, six (0.28 percent) are Christians, 2,043 (97.3 percent) are Sunni Muslims. The remaining 50 are 17 (0.8 percent) Shi’a, 30 (1.4 percent) other Muslims and 10 (0.47 percent) Yazidis.
Similar proportions are seen in the number of Syrian refugees having arrived in the U.S. since the start of fiscal year 2016: 2,773 in total, comprising 12 (0.4 percent) Christians, 2,703 (97.4 percent) Sunnis, 17 (0.6 percent) Shi’a, 30 (1.1 percent) other Muslims and 10 (0.3 percent) Yazidis.
And since the conflict erupted, of a total of 4,646 Syrian refugees admitted, 60 (1.3 percent) are Christians; 4,422 (95.1 percent) are Sunni Muslims. The remaining 163 include Shi’a, other Muslims, Zoroastrians, Baha’i, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yazidi, and refugees identified as “other religion” or as having “no religion.”
Although Syrians of all stripes have been affected, the number of Christians among those admitted into the U.S. – 1.3 percent – remains significantly smaller than the proportion of Christians in the total population when the war began – an estimated 10 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Last week, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said the very small proportion of Christians among Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. “has got to change.”