Coming Soon to US: Syrian Refugees

State Department agrees to allow 2K in 'major policy shift'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2013 7:48 AM CDT
Coming Soon to US: Syrian Refugees
Syrian refugees pose for a photograph after their tents flooded at a temporary camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Al-Faour.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

By most accounts, more than 2 million people have fled Syria in the last two years amid its civil war. In that time, the US has allowed maybe 90 of them to relocate to the US. Now, in what Foreign Policy describes as a "major policy shift," the State Department has agreed to let 2,000 Syrian refugees enter the US. It will make only a small dent in the refugee crisis, say human rights advocates, but it's something. "Referrals will come within the next four months," a State Department official tells The Cable blog of FP. "We will need to interview people and perform security and medical checks."

It's those security checks that will take longest—and keep refugees from getting here before winter sets in. While the most vulnerable refugees such as children and women will get top priority, the concern is that they might have a terrorist relative who would then be able to enter the country more easily because of ties here. (Human Rights Watch warns that young women at the camps are being forced into marriages or worse.) The majority of the new refugees aren't expected until well into next year. Meanwhile, the war hasn't stopped Bashar al-Assad from posting frivolous photos on Instagram. (Read more Syria stories.)

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