How to Screen 600 Syrian Refugees a Day: A “Surge Operation”

CIS — We just heard about the first Syrian family to arrive in the U.S. from Jordan under the new resettlement program called “surge operation”. A “temporary processing center” opened in Amman, Jordan, this February to speed up the resettlement process from 18-24 months to just three.

Forty-five-year-old Ahmad Al-Abboud, his wife, and five children landed in Kansas City this week. The family fled the Syrian city of Homs and was living in Jordan for the past three years. Ahmad could not find a job there, the family surviving on food coupons.

U.S. ambassador Alice Wells, at the airport in Jordan to see the Al-Abboud family off, spoke to the media: “This family is the first family to depart after having been granted refugee status by our U.S. immigration officers during our three-month resettlement surge operation that began on February 1.” The temporary processing center, she added, will run until April 28 and will process 10,000 refugees. It is part of “our effort to reach President Obama’s directive to send 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States by September 30, 2016, while also ensuring that every refugee accepted by the United States has been thoroughly screened and vetted through our rigorous security process.”

Six hundred interviews will take place at the center every day to meet that goal. Most of the 10,000 refugees will be resettled from Jordan despite the fact that all Syrian refugees are covered by the surge.

Gina Kassem, regional refugee coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, said that the 10,000 target was “a floor and not a ceiling,” with a possibility to increase the number. She also reminded reporters about the role of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in referring the most vulnerable cases to the U.S. for review. Priority is always given to traumatized groups, such as victims of torture or gender-based violence, she concluded.

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