The Obama administration celebrated its success this week in reaching its goal of resettling 10,000 refugees from war-torn Syria since the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2015.
Those refugees have been distributed throughout the country — except, conspicuously, for President Obama’s birthplace of Hawaii and the state that Vice President Joe Biden represented in the Senate, Delaware.
The District of Columbia, where Obama and Biden currently live — along with the rest of the nation’s political elite — also has no Syrian refugees.
They are among just 10 states that have not received a single Syrian refugee admitted this fiscal year, according to the State Department’s Refugee Process Center. The District of Columbia, where Obama and Biden currently live — along with the rest of the nation’s political elite — also has no Syrian refugees.
State Department officials insist there is no connection. Officials say they place Syrian refugees through nine networks of nonprofit organizations that help settle refugees in 180 communities throughout the nation. They meet once a week and work with government officials to determine where to send refugees on a weekly basis.
Sometimes those decisions are based on family reunification. Other times, the decision is based on whether vulnerable refugees need special programs available in specific communities. For instance, if a child arrives with severe burns, that refugee would be placed in a community with a hospital that has a pediatric burn unit.
[lz_table title=”Syrian Refugees” source=”Refugee Processing Center”]States with Most Refugees
|States with No Refugees
District of Columbia
Beyond that, according to State Department officials, decisions are made based on where resettlement agencies believe refugees can thrive. States with low unemployment rates get priority, for instance.
According to the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, 10,560 refugees from Syria have been placed in the United States since Oct. 1. California, with 1,161 refugees, has taken the most. Michigan, which has a large Muslim population centered in the greater Detroit area, is next with 1,096 refugees. Arizona (808), Texas (774), and Pennsylvania (613) round out the top five.
After Obama announced his Syrian refugee initiative, many Republican governors objected. A few even sued to block refugees from being resettled in their states, arguing that the federal government failed to consult them as the law requires.
A federal court last month tossed out a lawsuit by Alabama. While Gov. Robert Bentley this week indicated that the state would appeal, the state had not actually received any refugees from Syria as of Wednesday.
Critics of Obama contend that refugees from Syria pose a security risk since there is no way to ensure that terrorists do not infiltrate the refugee pool. Critics also point out that the cost is enormous — running hundreds of millions of dollars after accounting for increased use of welfare programs.
The issue has played a role in the 2016 election. Democrat Hillary Clinton has proposed expanding the Syrian refugee program to 65,000 a year, while Republican Donald Trump has vowed to shut it down.