By Kristina Wong
May 18, 2016
A group of 27 Democratic senators on Wednesday called on President Obama to fulfill his commitment to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. by October.
The lawmakers say the administration has so far only admitted 1,736 Syrian refugees, out of the 10,000 pledged.
"To fulfill the commitment you announced last year, at least 8,264 Syrian refugees would need to be admitted during the remaining five months of the fiscal year," said the group, led by Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), in a letter to the president.
"We would appreciate an update on specific measures your Administration plans to take to fulfill its stated commitment to resettle the additional Syrian refugees by the end of September 2016," they added.
The State Department launched a surge operation in Amman, Jordan, earlier this year to increase the pace of interviews of potential refugees.
Staff interviewed about 12,000 refugee applicants between February and April, a department spokesperson told The Hill earlier this month.
"Not all of the applicants approved by [the Department of Homeland Security] during the February-April period will be admitted to the United States in FY 2016. Some will be admitted in FY 2017," the spokesperson, who requested anonymity, said.
The plan's critics argue it could endanger U.S. national security, allowing terrorists to sneak through.
But supporters of the president's plan point out that other nations have taken many times more refugees fleeing the five-year-old Syrian civil war that has left hundreds of thousands of people dead and more than 4.8 millions displaced.
The issue of Syrian refugees has roiled the 2016 presidential campaign, with GOP candidate Donald Trump standing by his call to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants to the U.S.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a signatory of the letter.
Other signatories of the letter include Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.); Ben Cardin (Md.) Mazie Hirono (Hawaii); Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.); Al Franken (Minn.); Tim Kaine (Va.); Ron Wyden (Ore.); Chris Coons (Del.); Sherrod Brown (Ohio); Pat Leahy (Vt.); Jack Reed (R.I.); Ed Markey (Mass.); Elizabeth Warren (Mass.); Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.); Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.); Cory Booker (N.J.); Patty Murray (Wash.); Maria Cantwell (Wash.); Barbara Boxer (Calif.); Chris Murphy (Conn.); Robert Menendez (N.J.); Jeff Merkley (Ore.); Brian Schatz (Hawaii); and Barbara Mikulski (Md.).
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