The Obama administration appears to be bowing to international pressure and pursuing under-the-radar “alternative” ways to bring in more Syrian and other refugees — as soon as this year.
…. At the [UN High Commission on Refugee] meeting, attended by State Department officials, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for countries to pursue “alternative avenues” for refugees – such as student and work visas, and expanded family reunification programs.
“These pathways can take many forms: not only resettlement, but also more flexible mechanisms for family reunification, including extended family members, [labor] mobility schemes, student visa and scholarships, as well as visa for medical reasons,” Grandi said. This followed an adviser suggesting the U.S. ask universities to offer scholarships to Syrian students, and help Syrian-Americans bring in their extended families outside the “time-consuming” refugee resettlement process.
The State Department immediately issued a media note reaffirming the “commitment to resettle at least 10,000 Syrians in FY 2016 and increase the total number of resettled refugees from around the world to 100,000 by the end of FY 2017.”
Nayla Rush, senior researcher at the Center for Immigration Studies, said she thinks the administration is “100 percent” behind the idea.
“My fear is they aren’t really going to let anyone know about it,” Rush said.
Unclear is whether the refugees can be properly vetted, especially if they come in through an array of different visa programs. In its media note, the State Department said the U.S. “has created a program to allow U.S. citizens and permanent residents to file refugee applications for their Syrian family members.”