United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is considering “alternative” ways to admit more Syrian refugees to the United States, beyond the current refugee resettlement program, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
“The legitimacy and transparency of these new ‘alternative pathways,’ aimed at admitting increasing numbers of Syrian refugees into the United States without calling them ‘refugees,’ remain to be seen,” CIS senior researcher Nayla Rush wrote in a report Monday. “They might even amount to convenient admissions detours at a time when the U.S. refugee resettlement program is under tight scrutiny.”
According to Rush, facing a target to resettle 480,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years, U.N. representatives have already been laying the rhetorical groundwork for pursuing such alternatives to resettlement. During a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution in February, Rush detailed, Beth Harris, Research Professor at Georgetown University and adviser to the United Nations Secretary General on humanitarian refugee policy noted the possibility of alternative paths.
Refugees and government officials are expecting this crisis to last 10 or 15 years. It’s time that we no longer work as business as usual … UNHCR next month [March 2016] is convening a meeting to look at what are being called “alternative safe pathways” for Syrian refugees. Maybe it’s hard for the U.S. to go from 2,000 to 200,000 refugees resettled in a year, but maybe there are ways we can ask our universities to offer scholarships to Syrian students. Maybe we can tweak some of our immigration policies to enable Syrian-Americans who have lived here to bring not only their kids and spouses but their uncles and their grandmothers. There may be ways that we could encourage Syrians to come to the U.S. without going through this laborious, time-consuming process of refugee resettlement.” (Emphasis Rush’s).
At the UNHCR March “high level” meeting in Geneva, Rush detailed, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for “alternative avenues” for countries to admit more Syrian refugees. (Read more from “Report: U.N. Pressing for ‘Alternative’ Ways to Admit More Syrian Refugees to U.S.” HERE)