The US has resettled just 44 Syrian refugees into the country since October, down from approximately 6,000 in the same time frame last year, according to CNN.
Figures are down 99.3 per cent compared to last year, when most of the refugees were admitted before US President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“The process is a little bit slower because additional vetting mechanisms have been put in place,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday.
However this has been deemed hypocrite by refugee advocates in light of the US strikes on targets in Syria, in response to the Douma chemical attack. At a congressional hearing yesterday, members questioned State Department officials about the policy, arguing that it was inconsistent for the Trump administration to intervene militarily in the Syrian conflict, whilst not fulfilling its responsibility to those who have been displaced.
More civilians were killed in the Douma chemical weapon attack than have been resettled in the US as refugees this fiscal year. If the US really wants to help Syrians, it shouldn’t be slamming the door shut
Hans Van de Weerd, Vice President of US programmes at the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement.
The president has been highly critical of his predecessor Barak Obama’s policy towards Syrian refugees saying terror groups like Daesh could exploit higher refugee flows to launch attacks on US soil.
Trump caused controversy during the 2016 presidential election when the put forward his alternative to the policy – a ban on all Muslims entering the US. After being voted in, Trump implemented a softened version of the travel ban, which included a pause in overall refugee admissions and a near-total moratorium on people coming to the US from Syria. The policy was later revised by a US court and faces ongoing legal challenges.
In autumn last year, the Trump administration announced it would accept no more than 45,000 refugees for the 2018 fiscal year, the lowest quota in decades and fewer than half the number allowed by Obama in his final year.
The US has maintained that it seeks a political solution to the conflict in Syria, and on Tuesday, Nauert seemed to suggest that this was a better option than the mass resettlements of refugees, stating “many refugees would rather stay closer to home than get uprooted and go to Buffalo or Wisconsin”.