According to the New York Times, the Syrian government will allow U.S. officials into the country to begin interviewing Iraqi refugees for the purpose of resettling some in the United States. The U.S. government continues to lag far behind its stated goal of admitting 12,000 into the country this year. The decision by the Syrian government follows their recent decision to close their borders to Iraqis fleeing the violence in their country, requiring visas for Iraqis wishing to enter the country. The decision closed the final border that remained open to Iraqis fleeing by land.
I certainly hope this is a sign the U.S. is finally taking resettlement seriously. Some have said the reluctance on the part of the U.S. to begin large scale resettlement is political, that doing so would admit the failure of the war. Others say the government is reluctant to admit large numbers of foreign born Muslims. Whatever the reason, the people who need help the most have been left to risk their lives fleeing unimaginable violence and immense difficulties if they were lucky to make it across the border. Perhaps now, some Iraqis will have a chance at a stable, peaceful future. However, with roughly 1.5 million Iraqis now in Syria, admitting 12,000 a year is only scratching the surface of the problem. The U.S. will have to give more money to fund the Syrian and Jordanian education systems, now groaning under the stress of generously allowing Iraqi children into the schools. The healthcare sector is also in dire need of assistance. It's up to the U.S. to prove it is serious about taking care of its responsibilities.