Background Briefing On the Mechanics of the United States Refugee Admissions Program Special Briefing

Posted on September 12, 2015

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Press Releases: Background Briefing On the Mechanics of the United States Refugee Admissions Program

09/11/2015 07:13 PM EDT

Background Briefing On the Mechanics of the United States Refugee Admissions Program

Special Briefing

State Department Official

Via Teleconference

Washington, DC

September 11, 2015


MODERATOR: Thank you, Christy, and thank you all for joining us today. As a reminder, this call is on background. This call will be strictly on the mechanics of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. This call will not discuss policy issues, but rather on the mechanics of the program.

We are pleased to have [name and title withheld] with us today. Moving forward, [State Department Official] will be called State Department official for the purposes of this call. Again, this call is on background.

So State Department official, I’ll turn this over for you for some opening remarks.

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Hi, everybody, this is [State Department Official]. As [Moderator] stated, this is a call today to address a lot – some of the questions that we’ve been getting. I know a lot of you are very curious about the way that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program actually operates given all of the news in recent days about Syrian admissions and other admissions to the United States. So I thought I would take about probably five or six minutes to walk through the process, and then open up the floor to questions. So I’ll go ahead and start.

So we refer to the program as the USRAP, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, so if I use that acronym that’s what that means. So the USRAP is an interagency process that includes three primary U.S. Government agencies. That’s us, the Department of State, as the primary lead agency; the Department of Homeland Security, specifically U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and the Department of Health and Human Services, their Office of Refugee Resettlement.

So this USRAP involves those three government agencies as well as international organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, a number of nongovernmental organizations – these we normally refer to as resettlement agencies in the United States – as well as U.S. states, cities, private citizens, churches and mosques, and community groups. So it’s a lot of people involved, big process, fairly standard procedures.

So there are a number of processing requirements within the USRAP that cannot be waived, such as an in-person DHS interview, security checks, and a medical exam, including a TB test. And this is one way – one of the many ways in which our Refugee Resettlement Program differs from a lot of other countries’ resettlement programs. A lot of other countries can do things like waive an in-person interview. They can take a case based on dossier. They do very few security checks in some cases. Those are not options that are available to us. So because of these very strict requirements that we have and because at any given time we’re processing cases in 70 or more locations worldwide with a limited amount of resources, it currently takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months or even longer to process a case from referral or application to arrival in the United States.

And I want to focus on that for just a second and repeat that, because it’s an important point. If we had a much smaller case load – let’s say if we processed 5,000 or 10,000 or even 20,000 people a year, and if we only processed in capitals where we have a physical presence, like Amman or Nairobi – processing times would be much shorter. But because we accept referrals from UNHCR for refugees in remote locations and camps all over the world – places like eastern Chad and western Tanzania that are pretty difficult to get to – we can’t send our staff up to interview a case as soon as we have one referral or ten referrals or even a hundred referrals. We’re constantly looking for a critical mass of cases before we go and start processing those cases.

The USRAP is a labor-intensive program. Between the three government agencies, we spent last year a little bit more than $1.1 billion, so it is a labor-intensive and fairly resource-intensive program.

So I’m going to go over the main steps on the overseas processing side first. And the first important step in getting access to the USRAP is either a referral or an application. The vast majority of our referrals come from UNHCR, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, also known as the UN Refugee Agency. U.S. embassies and certain NGOs are also qualified to refer cases to us, but we get very few from those two sources. About 75 percent of our referrals to the program come from UNHCR. Another 25 percent of the program – so about a quarter of the program – a quarter of our applicants gain access through direct applications. And so some of you are probably familiar with some of these direct application programs.

We have a program for U.S.-affiliated Iraqis. We operate that program in Baghdad, Jordan and Egypt. We also have a program for Iranian religious minorities that’s mostly operated in Vienna. We have a program for former Soviet Union religious minorities mostly operated in Moscow. We have a program in Havana for various categories of Cubans. And our newest program is a program for Central American minors with a lawfully present parent in the United States. So again, just to repeat, the list of programs that I just described are what we call direct referral programs, and those in any given year make up about 25 percent of the people that come through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

So once a case enters the USRAP, whether it’s a referral from UNHCR or a direct application, they are all essentially treated the same once they’re into our system. So once we receive those applications, the next step is to prepare the applications, and PRM [inaudible] bureau at the State Department funds a network of what we call resettlement support centers that we have located around the world. We have nine primary locations. I’ll go through those locations, just to let you know. They’re in alphabetical order.

So we have a resettlement support center in Amman with sub-offices in Baghdad and Cairo; an office in Bangkok with a sub-office in Kuala Lumpur; an office in Damak, Nepal; an office in Havana; in Istanbul with a sub-office in Beirut; in Moscow; in Nairobi with a sub-office in Johannesburg; Vienna; and Quito with small sub-offices in San Salvador and Tegucigalpa.

So we’ve got a completely worldwide presence, which is also something that differentiates us from other resettlement countries. Most other resettlement countries focus on a handful of populations in certain locations. We have a worldwide presence. And at those resettlement support centers, there’s something close to a thousand people working for us. Those – these are not U.S. Government officials. They are – these resettlement support centers are mostly run by NGOs like the International Rescue Committee or international organizations like the International Organization for Migration.

So at these RSCs, that’s where our case workers are doing things like collecting biographic and other information from applicants so that they can present the files to a DHS officer when they arrive in town to conduct the adjudication.

So the next big step overseas is the USCIS adjudications, so these again are officers of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from the Department of Homeland Security. Refugees are interviewed in person by USCIS officers who travel to where they are located. And so this includes – this involves teams of officers that are based in Washington, D.C., and they send them out in teams ranging from, say, four or five people up to – I think we currently have a team in Istanbul of 17 people doing interviews of Syrians and others.

So USCIS officers get on the road and go to where the refugees are. The main purpose of the USCIS adjudication is to determine whether applicants meet the U.S. legal definition of a refugee and are admissible, so just to – for those who don’t know, the legal definition of a refugee includes having a well-founded fear of persecution based on one of the five protected grounds – so race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

The next big check in – the next big step is security checks. All refugees undergo multiple security checks in order to be approved for U.S. resettlement. Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States. The screening includes involvement of the National Counterterrorism Center, NCTC; the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center; DHS; the Department of Defense; and other agencies. Most of the details of the security checks are classified.

At the same time, refugees are undergoing a health screening. All refugees approved by USCIS have to undergo a screening to identify diseases of public health significance such as TB. In 2007, CDC revised the TB testing and treatment protocols to tighten them up to avoid bringing refugees to the United States that have TB. Because of that tightening – which is a good thing because it has protected the program from people with cases of active TB – but because of the tightening in that program, far more of our refugees than in the past have to undergo TB culturing, which can be up to an eight-week process. So that’s just another step overseas.

Finally, cultural orientation: most refugees attend a three-day class providing information about the United States and what to expect from the resettlement agencies and other things when they arrive.

Let me quickly move to the domestic piece of the portion. All of our travel is arranged by the International Organization for Migration. We pay IOM up front for the cost of the air travel, but before departing for the U.S., refugees sign a promissory note agreeing to repay the loan to the U.S. for their travel costs.

We work with nine domestic agencies to resettle refugees in the U.S. These nine agencies have about 315 affiliates in about 180 communities throughout the United States. Each year, each of these nine agencies and any new agencies that would like to be considered for the program – it’s an open, competitive process – these agencies submit proposals describing their capacity to resettle refugees at each of these affiliates, and that would include everything from staff capacity, how large is the office, what languages do they speak, what sort of special needs cases can they handle, what sort of special relationships might they have with medical centers to handle complex cancer cases or other cases.

Once we’ve collected all that information, reviewed the proposals and usually made a few tweaks here and there and come up with an overall numerical placement plan by location, it’s actually up to the individual resettlement agencies on a weekly basis to determine where the cases are placed. Every week, representatives from each of these nine agencies meet to review the biographic and other information sent overseas to our refugee processing center here in Roslyn to determine where to resettle each refugee. If a refugee has relatives in the United States, he or she or they are likely to be resettled near or with them.

It’s important to note that a refugee, once they arrive, have the ability to pick up and leave the minute they arrive in the United States. So if we’ve placed them, we’ve decided to place them in Charlottesville, they come and they decide they don’t like Charlottesville, they can pick up and move to another city with no problem, although the aid that they get might not always follow them to that next location.

These local domestic resettlement agency affiliates arrange – they welcome refugees at the airport and begin the process of helping them to be resettled in their new communities. And these resettlement agencies are responsible for providing initial reception and placement services in the first 30 to 90 days after the refugees arrive. That includes finding safe and affordable housing and providing a variety of services to promote early self-sufficiency and cultural adjustment.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services also funds programs for which refugees are eligible up to five years after arrival. So although the State Department role in the domestic resettlement is limited to the first 90 days, it’s ORR funding that takes over after that.

So I think I’m going to stop there. I think I talked longer than I meant to, and I’m ready to start taking questions.

MODERATOR: That’s great. Thank you so much. Again, we’re ready to open the queue for questions. As a reminder, this call is on background. Our State Department official is happy to talk about the mechanics of the program. We’ll stay away from discussions on policy.

Christie, if you can queue up our first question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Once again, for any questions, please press *1 at this time. And we’ll directly to the line of Michael Gordon with The New York Times. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: You said that it takes 18 to 24 months to carry out the vetting of refugees. It was the same number that was given to us a couple days ago. The White House said two days ago that it hopes to take at least 10,000 Syrian refugees. Does this mean that none of these people will arrive during the life of the Obama Administration, or can you take – make an extra effort or devote additional resources to the vetting, perhaps have more than 17 people in Istanbul, or do whatever is necessary to expedite this process so that the 10,000 arrive next year?

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yep, thanks, Michael. So the commitment that the President made or the order that the President issued earlier this week was that we admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in Fiscal Year 2016, which starts on October 1st. The way that we will be able to do that is that we already have about close to 18,000 referrals from UNHCR. We have been resettling Syrian refugees in small numbers since 2011, and it was only in June of 2014 – so what’s that, about 14 months ago – that UNHCR started submitting large numbers of referrals to us. And so by that I mean like between 500 and 1,000 people per month. So those arrivals have – those referrals have come pretty steadily since last June to the point that we now have a critical mass. We at the State Department have already prepared the cases for more than 10,000 people, and so we’re well on our way to meeting that goal.

MODERATOR: That’s great. Thank you so much. Christie, if we could have our next question.

OPERATOR: James Reinl with Al Jazeera, please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi there. Thanks so much for the briefing. Are there any more details you can give us about which refugees are going to be able to come from Syria and which ones aren’t? Obviously, there’s 4 million-odd UNHCR-registered refugees from the Syrian crisis, and so who’s going to make it into the 10,000? Are they currently based in camps? Are they going to come from particular vulnerable groups? Is it going to be the most persecuted? Does educational background come into it? Does fear of Islamic State – that kind of priority? If you can talk us through that bit of the process a little bit more, thanks.

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Sure, thank you. Hopefully I can remember all of the questions you just asked. First of all, I think that the figure 4 million Syrian refugees is the number of estimated Syrian refugees in the region. I do not believe they are all UNHCR-registered.

But of the cases that are UNHCR-registered, yes, UNHCR does focus on the most vulnerable when they are referring cases to us and the 28 or so other countries who have agreed to accept Syrians. This would include female-headed households. It could include victims of torture or violence. It could include religious minorities. It could include LGBT refugees, people who need medical care that they can’t get in their country of origin. So basically, people who are not thriving or expected to thrive in their country of origin. The vast majority of referrals that we have gotten from UNHCR have come from five countries, and I believe I – this will be in the correct order of magnitude: first Jordan, then Turkey, then Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq.

You asked about educational requirements. In the United States program, we have absolutely zero requirements in terms of educational background, English language, or other education, which is not to say that other resettlement countries don’t have those requirements.

MODERATOR: Great, thank you. Christy, if we could have our next question.

OPERATOR: We’ll now go to Pam Dockins with Voice of America. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you so much for doing this. First of all, I want – can you clarify one thing? As far as the process of refugees resettling, does it start with the interviews in one of the affiliate countries that you mentioned? Is that where the process formally starts?

And a second question. You mentioned as part of the process, there was a health screening. If a potential person who’s seeking to be resettled in the United States is found to have TB or another disease, would this cause them to be removed from the list to be considered for resettlement?

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Sure, Pam. Thanks for the questions. Yes, the application starts in the country in which they are living. And so the UNHCR interview or – and then the pre-screening and DHS interview takes place in the country in which they are, so in Jordan, in Turkey, in Lebanon, in Egypt, in Iraq.

The question on TB and other medical issues. The only disease that we find in any real number is active Class A contagious TB, and no, that does not preclude somebody from being resettled to the United States. What it does is significantly delay it. If we have a refugee that has been approved by DHS for resettlement, the Department of State pays for treatment to cure somebody of Class A infectious TB. It’s the same for Class B non-infectious TB. Their travel would be delayed probably on average a couple of months while we pay to treat them to a point that they are not active and contagious.

MODERATOR: Great, thank you. Christy, could we have our next —

OPERATOR: Thank you. We’ll go to Felicia Schwartz with The Wall Street Journal. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. A question on the UNHCR referrals. I guess you said in 2014 that was when they started making larger referrals. But if the Obama Administration had said before then that they wanted to take in more – 10,000 Syrian refugees then, would that – couldn’t they just have referred more, or couldn’t you increase funding to UNHCR so they could make more referrals? Like, how – what’s the connection there?

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Sure, thanks, Felicia. So yes, theoretically if the Administration had asked for referrals earlier, UNHCR may have submitted them. It’s important to keep in mind that normally, I mean, resettlement is not the first solution that the international community turns to when you’re looking at a major refugee crisis. In general, UNHCR does not refer refugees for resettlement in the first five years of a conflict because the hope is that people will eventually return home that – after the crisis is over, and people will shelter in the region in the meantime; and we, the United States and others, will help support the countries of asylum that are sheltering them.

So the vast majority of refugees that we resettle to the United States have been in situations of asylum for decades. So some of the Somalis that we have resettled have been in asylum since the early 1990s. Same with the – maybe the Burmese are more early 19 – I’m sorry, no, also early to mid 1990s. So that is why in general UNHCR didn’t turn to resettlement in the first three or so years of the conflict. So they actually, given that they started referring cases in 2014, they made the determination – after consulting with other countries as well – that there were likely to be Syrian refugees who were not going to be able to go home in the near or medium term. So they actually started referring Syrians earlier than they would have normally.

MODERATOR: Great. Could we go to our next question?

OPERATOR: Next we have Justin Sink with Bloomberg. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hey guys, thanks. I just wanted to loop back on – I know you just said that you – the State Department has already prepared cases for more than 10,000 people. And I’m wondering if that means so at this point they just need to go through the DHS and HHS screenings, and – or where in the process that you kind of outlined they were?

And the other thing talking to some people about this, they’ve said a bottleneck is that HHS will – or sorry, DHS will give a short window on security screenings, and so if you’ve got families, those windows of clearance don’t always align. And so I’m wondering if you guys have done anything especially now that you’re trying to bring a lot more Syrians in to kind of address that issue.

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thanks, Justin. So of the 10,000 or so that – it may be higher by now – let’s say between 10- or 11,000 that we’ve pre-screened, some of those have gone through DHS interview already. I actually don’t have that number at my fingertips. But the reality is because we started getting these large referrals last June and because we have been constantly doing pre-screening and DHS has been doing interviews at an increasing rate, the number of people who are – there are people at all stages of the process. There are some number who have had pre-screening but not DHS. Some have had both and are awaiting security checks. So there’s just people all along the spectrum, so it’s a little bit hard to put them into nice, neat buckets.

And then your question about security screenings, it is true that it is sometimes difficult to line up all of the security and medical checks on every individual on a case so that that case can then travel to the United States. I talked earlier about how refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of travelers to the U.S. That means there are multiple agencies involved, and so each individual on a case is getting multiple security checks. Not everybody’s security check result comes back at the same time.

So we do have cases where, say – a lot of refugee cases are large. They’ve got four, five, six, seven people on them. And so we have instances where, say, on a six-person case maybe you get the security clearances on one through five fairly quickly but number six takes a little bit longer to clear. Maybe he has a common name and there’s a lot of information that the agencies need to sift through to make sure he’s not that person. Well, maybe by the time his security check comes in, the medical clearance on person number two has expired. So it’s a constant battle to try to get everybody on the case to have all of their security checks lined up.

And I do believe – I can’t really provide the details on this call, but we have made improvements collectively as an interagency – this is not just the State Department but in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence agencies – we have made improvements that we believe are going to make it a little bit easier to get everybody synced up at once.

MODERATOR: Great, thank you. And could we move to our next question?

OPERATOR: Next we have Chris Jansing with NBC News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing the call. And I joined a couple of minutes late, so I apologize if this was answered at the beginning. But at the White House, they’ve talked a lot about the $4 billion that has been put in in this fiscal year largely, as they say, to deal with the refugees in country. Is that what finances this? And have there ever been numbers done on what it takes to put a single refugee through this process? Thanks.

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yep, thanks, Chris. No, we didn’t address that. The $4 billion that has been provided in humanitarian assistance is separate. You probably weren’t on the call when I said that last year it cost the three government agencies involved – so Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Health and Human Services – a little bit more than $1.1 billion to admit 70,000 refugees. So I actually don’t have a calculator in front of me to do that math, but that’s about 1.1 billion for about 70,000 refugees. And that includes the cost of overseas processing and the domestic resettlement pieces, so from the beginning all the way to programs for which refugees are eligible up till five years after admission.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Could we move to our next question?

OPERATOR: We’ll now go to Carol Morello with The Washington Post.

QUESTION: Hi. Do you have any – do you keep track at all of where people tend to go? Are there three or four primary cities where they go when they start to be dispersed through the United States, and is there anything that you do to keep tabs on them for a certain amount of time? And one other question: Do you have any figures that you might keep on at any given point in time what percent are on welfare?

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thanks, Carol. Primary cities – so I mentioned earlier we have about 180 communities in which we do resettlement. I actually do not have in front of me the top five or so cities, but I can tell you some of the major cities, and these are in no particular order, are places that wouldn’t surprise you – Atlanta, San Diego, Houston and Dallas, Chicago, Boston. We do not tend to place large numbers of refugees in cities like San Francisco, New York, Washington, because they are simply too expensive. Refugees generally can’t afford the rent when they first arrive in those types of cities. So we – aside from the large cities that I’ve just mentioned, we also do a lot of successful resettlement in medium-sized cities like Boise, Idaho; Nashville, Tennessee; Tucson, Arizona; Buffalo, New York; Erie, Pennsylvania.

Do we keep tabs on them? We – the State Department requires that the resettlement agencies provide employment statistics at 90 days. The Department of Health and Human Services requires that the resettlement agencies provide certain information on refugees that are enrolled in certain programs at a certain period, but you would have to turn to the Department of Health and Human Services for the exact parameters of those reporting requirements.

And then figures on welfare – we do not keep those. I would direct you to – I believe on the Department of Health and Human Services website, they post an annual report on refugee resettlement that has all sorts of statistics, including welfare usage. So that would be the best place to try to find that information.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Next question?

OPERATOR: Next we have Bryant Harris with Yomiuri Shimbun. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks so much for doing the call. I’m just wondering, there are some Democrats in Congress who have called for substantially increasing the number of refugees beyond 10,000; Martin O’Malley wants to do 60,000 or so. Can you give us a sense of, for that scale of a proposal, how much more manpower and financial aid to the three agencies involved would you need to do something like that?

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Okay, that’s a little bit beyond the scope of this call. It’s a little bit – it’s also hard for me to answer because if he – if those people who are calling for 65,000 Syrian admissions – really, the more important question is the overall number. If we admitted 65,000 Syrians out of an overall total of 75 or 85 or 100,000, that would be different. So I think I’m going to have to pass on that question. I’m sorry. I don’t have a good answer for that right now.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much for that response. Let’s move to our next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Kyle Blaine with BuzzFeed News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m just wondering – you talked about security clearance. I know one of the big issues that (inaudible) have brought up are terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds. I want to know how big of an issue, if you could say, is that in terms of Syrians being able to seek admission into the United States.

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Great, thanks for the question, Kyle. It has not so far been a fairly significant issue. So TRIG, also known as Material Support, has caught up large numbers of refugee applicants in the past, but with the Syrians, we have not seen that many cases go on TRIG holds. That could partially be because the United Nations Refugee Agency – UNHCR – has been, I would say, extraordinarily cautious in the referrals that they have made to us and other resettlement countries, because they know about concerns about this case load because of the ongoing conflict in Syria. It’s rather unusual that we resettle refugees from ongoing conflicts. Often, refugees are kind of left from – left over from a conflict or (inaudible) conflict.

But this – UNHCR’s been extraordinarily careful, and they have probably set aside the vast majority of cases that they believe would run into problems with the United States in terms of TRIG. We have not – we have not attempted to turn UNHCR protection and resettlement officers into U.S. lawyers, but we have given them pretty decent training on what sort of issues would be problematic under U.S. law related to our TRIG provisions. And so I – that’s probably one of the reasons we have not seen large numbers.

In some cases, they are – were referring those cases to other countries, but some other countries have similar TRIG – they don’t call them TRIG; they’re not as stringent as ours, but some other countries have similar concerns as well.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We’re going to take two more questions. Christy, if we could have you queue up the next.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Krishnad Calamur with Atlantic, please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Do the communities where these refugees are settled have a say on whether they’ll accept them or not?

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Sure, good question. Thanks. So I referred earlier to the fact that every year when our resettlement agency partners submit proposals to us for – describe their capacity in each of their affiliated offices – so they submit those proposals. At the same time, what we do is when we get those proposals in from all nine agencies, we bundle up the information on – for affiliates in each state and we send that information back to the state. Every state except maybe a couple have something called a state refugee coordinator that works for the state governor – sorry, government. Often they’re sitting in the department of health and human services or the department of economic security or something like that. So that state refugee coordinator has the ability to send comments back to us about whether he believes – or he or she believes that the – not only the resettlement agencies but that the communities and the states have the capacity to accept that number of refugees. So that’s in the initial proposal phase.

In addition, starting about two years ago, I believe it was FY13, we required that all of our resettlement agencies conduct quarterly consultations with stakeholders in their communities. So that means that not just once a year when they’re preparing a proposal, but every quarter they have to reach out to a wide variety of stakeholders. And that would include other community organizations. That could include the police department, the school, the mayor’s office, the fire department, other agencies that have a stake in refugee resettlement, and private citizens can be invited as well. And they hold those quarterly conversations and that is taken into account when we are making placement plans for the entire year and throughout the year.

MODERATOR: Thank you. And our last question?

OPERATOR: Thank you, will be from Hannah Allam with McClatchy. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes, hi there. I was hoping to go back to the timeline issue from earlier. With the screenings that you said that have already been underway, does that mean you do expect the full 10,000 to be resettled in this next fiscal year? And also, is that referral rate you mentioned still accurate? Has it been going up or down? And then on the demographics of the 10,000 – given what you were saying about the focus on, for example, vulnerable minorities, religious minorities, could we – is there anything you could say about that? And is this new batch going to be, for example, primarily Yezidis and Christians or is it pretty mixed? Thanks.

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Sure, thank you. I’ve written down two of your three questions and I’m struggling to remember the third, but let me start. Shoot, I’m not sure what the second question was.

Okay, the first question. Yes, we are striving to admit 10,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2016. We believe it is an achievable goal. But it’s going to take quite a bit of work and coordination with our interagency partners. And I just remembered the second question was about the rate of referrals from UNHCR. That rate has been holding steady at – between 500 or really high hundreds up to 1,000 about every month. And we expect that rate to continue in coming months. One of the challenges for UNHCR will be that a number of other countries have announced increases in their Syrian targets in recent days and weeks, and so it is likely going to be a challenge for UNHCR to keep up with all of the referrals that these countries are requesting. But we are in dialogue with UNHCR and we – the United States Government stands ready to assist with additional funding. And I’m sure other countries are as well.

Finally, on demographics, the number of Yezidis and Christians that have been referred are actually quite low. You would want to confirm this with UNHCR, but our understanding is that the percentage of Christians among the Syrian population that UNHCR resettled is less than 2 – sorry, that UNHCR has registered, not resettled, is less than 2 percent. So the majority of the referrals are not Yezidis and Christians. And I think that’s all I’ll say about that.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Thank you again, all, for joining us today. As a reminder, this call was on background with a State Department official. We’ll be releasing the transcript this evening. Thanks for your time, thanks for joining us, and have a good weekend.

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