President Obama is determined to meet his goal of 10,000 Syrian refugees being resettled in the United States by Sept. 30, but that's just a small "down payment" on what he has promised the United Nations.
While the attention of the media and Congress has been on the 10,000 so-called "refugees," 98 percent of whom have been Sunni Muslims – the same sect as ISIS, al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist groups – Obama has been quietly working on a much broader effort to bring Syrians to the U.S. under "alternative pathways."
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The term "refugee" has been tainted since the terrorist attacks on Paris and Brussels and the thousands of sexual assaults by Muslim men against women in Sweden, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, despite the media's attempts to keep those stories quiet.
So another plan had to be devised.
Backlash growing despite 'Islamophobia' label
In more than a dozen states, the entry of Syrian refugees has caused friction between residents who want to welcome the newcomers and those who feel they could pose a security risk.
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Just this week, another four Somali refugees were convicted in Minnesota of trying to join ISIS in Syria. That's on top of the 40 others who have done so and the dozens more who have been charged with sending material support to overseas terrorists.
Others simply believe that refugees from the Middle East are too expensive, since 90 percent of them are on federal welfare of one sort or another and their children are require special interpreters and tutors to educate.
Not including the price of educating the Syrian children, it's costing $20,000 to resettle them in U.S. cities and towns.
Organized pushback against the arrival of Muslim refugees has occurred in communities in Minnesota, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Michigan, Idaho, Montana, Tennessee, Washington state and North Dakota among other states.
Wherever protesters have appeared urging caution, a counter protest has typically popped up, smaller in size but with signs accusing the protesters of "racism," "intolerance" or "Islamophobia."
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One largely ignored facet of the debate has been the fate of Syrian Christians, who have been run out of their homes, their men beheaded, shot or crucified and their women forced into sexual slavery. Yet only 1 percent of the more than 4,200 Syrians resettled in the U.S. since the Syrian civil war broke out have been Christian. Christians made up 10 percent of Syria's population before the war broke out. They are being ignored in the face of extermination, critics say.
Europeans are also getting restless as more Muslim migrants pour into their countries. Evidence of that is found in the fact that right-of-center parties that once had only a tiny minority of support are now gaining popularity in Austria, France, the U.K., Sweden and Switzerland.
So with this pushback gaining momentum, United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees Filippo Grandi has devised a new plan to get Shariah-compliant Syrians resettled into Western democracies without calling them "refugees." He calls it "alternative pathways" for Syrians into the industrialized West.
Expect a flood of more than 100,000 Syrian "students" to enter the U.S. in the next three years, says Nayla Rush in a new report for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank. And that doesn't include those who will come under a myriad of other expanded or newly created visa programs.
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"They are getting nervous like I have never seen in my nearly nine years of following this program," refugee watchdog Ann Corcoran told WND.
WND first broke the news in April about Obama's secret plans to work with the U.N. to bring in Syrians under "alternative safe pathways" including student visas, humanitarian visas, new labor schemes, medical visas and expanded family reunification plans.
Special university wavers for Syrian students
So far, 150 Syrian students have been awarded scholarships to various U.S. colleges. Rush expects the numbers for 2016 to be much higher. Once here, these students can apply for asylum, like 28-year-old Syrian national Mohamad Bassel Khair, who was awarded a full scholarship including room and board at New Jersey's Montclair State University. He is now seeking asylum for himself and his family, the Associate Press reports.
The AP story details the loosening of admission requirements for Syrian refugees in the U.S.: "Instead of measuring students' English language skills through standardized tests that carry fees, some schools are offering online interviews instead. Some are accepting scanned copies of academic transcripts if the original has been lost."
A workshop on "Delivering Higher Education to Syrian Refugees" was held in Turkey last year, bringing together actors from various governments, U.N. agencies, NGOs and universities, as well as Syrian students and professors, to discuss the needs of university-age Syrian refugees. The workshop was funded by the Ford Foundation and George Soros' Open Society Institute.
Expanded family reunification and work programs
Expanded family reunification will account for another big portion of Obama's secret Syrian immigration plans. Only spouses and children are currently allowed to join their refugee families in America, but that is going to be expanded to include siblings and other extended family.
Others will arrive on "work permits" and various other specialty visas.
There is even a new "private sponsorship" program, the details of which are still largely unknown.
Obama is addressing a high-level summit on the global refugee crisis at the United Nations in New York on Sept. 19. Rush believes he will have met the goal of 10,000 Syrians being embedded into the United States by the Sept. 19 summit. But that's just the beginning.
"We cannot imagine him presiding over this high-level meeting before honoring his part of the bargain first. It is a safe bet, therefore, that the resettlement target of 10,000 Syrian refugees will be met by Sept. 19, whatever it takes," writes Rush, senior researcher for CIS.
As WND previously reported, Obama has ordered a special "surge operation" to speed up the resettlement process, beefing up the amount of staff and resources devoted to the refugee operation and reducing the amount of time taken to screen the Syrians from 18 months down to three months.
The government interviewed almost 12,000 applicants between February and April who had been referred by the U.N. for refugee resettlement in the United States.
So the fact that 225 Syrian refugees were admitted into the United States in a new single-day record for Syrian approvals is beside the point, Rush said.
"What is of importance here is that 12,000 were interviewed in such a short time driven by the urgency to meet the September deadline," she writes.
Of those, 4,700 have been approved, according to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Johnson, and an additional 7,900 are awaiting final approval. How many come in a day or a week is more likely related to logistics such as plane tickets, welcoming committees, available housing, etc., and final screening, Rush said.
WND reported in April that the government would need to average 358 Syrians per week arriving in the U.S. to meet the Sept. 30 deadline for 10,000 arrivals.
But the total is now expected to be up to 10 times larger, says Rush. And it’s all about to be done under the radar of Congress with nearly zero media coverage.
Fresh evidence to that effect has come from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees Filippo Grande and a statement by the U.S. State Department. Together, those statements indicate the U.N. has many more Syrians in store for the U.S. than what Obama has publicly acknowledged.
The UNHCR has said it wants to permanently resettle 480,000 Syrians into Western countries over the next three years, but that’s not enough. There will be resettlements but then other "alternative" routes or "pathways."
"To me this kind of resembles the 'pathway to citizenship' (made famous by the 2013 Gang of Eight immigration bill), and they’re applying that now to refugees," Rush told WND.
Rush says, by speeding up the process and diffusing the Syrian entries though a myriad of different immigration programs, the administration hopes to take some of the heat off the refugee resettlement industry while still accomplishing the same mission – bringing more and more Syrian refugees to the U.S.
Congress plays along
So far Congress is playing right along with the plan.
To date no one in Congress has made a big issue of the "alternative pathways" or explained to the American public that the true numbers of Shariah-compliant Syrians entering the U.S. will end up being 1o to 20 times the 10,000 that Obama has acknowledged.
"So what they’re going to do is speed up the process, let’s bring them fast but let’s also bring them in different ways because states and cities are starting to say, ‘We don’t want all these refugees, the FBI says they’re not safe, and who knows how they will integrate,'” Rush told WND. “People need to integrate, and you can’t force them into neighborhoods. Yet Congress is not even discussing it."
The original lobbying push more than a year ago by the refugee resettlement industry called on Obama to allow 100,000 Syrian refugees into the country by the end of his term in office and that has been the goal all along.
But with mounting criticism of the program in Congress following terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Obama only agreed to admit 10,000 Syrians.
The pro-refugee lobbyists in the Catholic and Lutheran churches, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the International Rescue Committee and others seemingly were dealt a setback in their plans to get 100,000 Syrians permanently resettled in U.S. cities and towns.
But now it appears they will get their way after all.
Both the UNCHR and the State Department have issued statements recently calling for “alternative safe pathways” and “new ways” of transferring Syrians to the U.S. and other Western democracies.
On March 30 the United Nations held a "high-level meeting" in Geneva to address the refugee crisis. The question at hand was how to relieve the mounting stress on a few countries in the Middle East and Europe by spreading the refugee burden “more equitably” among nations.
A synopsis of the meeting posted on the U.N. refugee agency’s website suggests the U.N. is cooking up a plan to send increasing numbers of Syrian refugees into the United States without calling them "refugees."
The UNCHR states:
"The purpose of the meeting was to explore mechanisms for the admission of Syrian refugees that could be adopted by States to relieve the pressure on countries currently hosting large numbers. Such mechanisms could include resettlement, which is an important protection tool targeting the most vulnerable individuals, as well as other pathways, such as humanitarian admission or transfer, family reunification, labor mobility schemes and scholarships."
"Labor mobility" is U.N. code for the free flow of “guest workers” across open borders, while “scholarships” is a clear signal that education-based programs will be used to bring young Syrians to the United States.
"Using 'pathways' for citizenship, it seems, may be a little less scary than 'refugees,'" says Rush.
Corcoran, who has been following the refugee issue closely since 2007, also sees a significant change in the language being used as open-borders advocates have run into stiff resistance in more than a dozen states following the attacks on Paris that killed 130 people on Dec. 2, 2015, when it was discovered that two of the eight attackers had entered Europe as "refugees" carrying Syrian passports.
"The term 'refugees' has become a dirty word," said Corcoran, author of the blog Refugee Resettlement Watch. "When I first started following the refugee issue back in 2007, it was a warm and fuzzy kind of thing. They’ve spent years building up the word ‘refugee’ to mean something positive, but they haven’t been successful, and now it’s sort of like dirt. It’s backfired."
So instead of just “refugee resettlement,” the U.N. and its open-borders supporters will be talking about “alternative pathways” for displaced persons.
The end result, says Rush, will be the same.
More migrants from jihadist hotbeds in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia will end up living in American cities earmarked for resettlements.
In his opening statement at the March 30 meeting in Geneva, Grande indicated that nations should get more creative in the way they admit Syrian refugees:
"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 visas and scholarships, as well as visas for medical reasons.”
There simply are not enough places willing to accept resettled refugees, Grande said, so alternative methods must be found.
“Resettlement needs vastly outstrip the places that have been made available so far,” he said. “But humanitarian and student visa, job permits and family reunification would represent safe avenues of admission for many other refugees as well.”
The numbers are so big and the avenues so diverse that it will become hard to track how many Syrians have entered the U.S., Rush said, until long after they’re here.
"They’re talking about work permits and labor mobility schemes, and there is no way to find out how many will enter every year," she said. "This is happening now. We have to keep an eye out, but how do you find out? Congress agreed to accept 10,000 Syrians, but it didn’t agree to this."