The U.S. government has picked up the pace of Syrian refugee admissions so much that it could exceed President Obama's goal of admitting 10,000 refugees from the war-torn country by Oct. 1.
"The current pace of arrivals is excelling … so we may exceed 10,000 refugees" by the end of the fiscal year, an administration official told reporters on a conference call Friday.
The fiscal year ends Sept. 30 and admissions of Syrian refugees will continue for the final months of this year, although the official noted that it's "too soon to have a target figure established" for fiscal year 2017.
"We have always expected that the rate of refugee arrivals — both of Syrian refugees and of refugees from around the world — would increase through the end of the fiscal year," a State Department spokesperson said.
After a slow beginning earlier in the year, Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday said the U.S. has now taken in 8,000 Syrian refugees, roughly 80 percent of Obama's goal of 10,000 by in the current fiscal year.
The State Department Friday provided more details about the 8,000 refugees it has admitted to the U.S. so far, reporting that 78 percent of them are women and children and nearly 99 percent are Muslim. Of the 4,576 refugees admitted under the age of 18, roughly half of them are girls and half are boys, the official said.
Kerry on Thursday emphasized that the U.S. hasn't cut any corners when it comes to vetting the refugee candidates, amid Republican complaints that Islamic State terrorists or sympathizers could use the refugee system to gain entrance to the United States.
Officials Friday reported that the U.S. approval rate of Syrians applying for travel into the country as refugees since 2011 was 80 percent while 7 percent were denied and 13 percent had their applications placed on hold for further screening.
The official did not break the figures down by fiscal year.