The Canadian government fulfilled a promise on Monday that it would resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees, just two months later than the originally proposed deadline. The program was launched in November 2015 after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office and was set to be completed before the turn of the new year. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama vowed to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees for the 2016 fiscal year (which starts in October 2015). Since that date, however, the United States has only accepted 841 Syrian refugees.
“If the current rate continues, it will take four years to reach Obama’s relatively modest goal,” journalist John Knefel wrote in the Nation.
The United States has a GDP more than nine times higher than that of Canada, but a series of anti-refugee statements and dilettante policy proposals have complicated the process for refugee resettlement. The United States raised the ceiling for refugee resettlement from 70,000 in 2015 to 85,000 in 2016 to account for Syrian refugees. Attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, though, shook many Americans. Politicians responded by making the resettlement process for Syrian refugees even more stringent.
The State Department told the Nation that it still plans to meet its goal and that is has posted additional staff in Jordan to conduct interviews with refugees referenced by the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The extra staff is unlikely to affect the numbers for 2016 though due to the average length of time it takes to resettle Syrian refugees.
“The average processing time for refugee applications is 18 to 24 months,” CNN reported, “but Syrian applications can take significantly longer because of security concerns and difficulties in verifying their information.”
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