Fact Check

President Obama Is Secretly Planting 75,000 Muslims Around The United States?

Is President Obama secretly importing 75,000 Muslims into the United States?

Published Jan 30, 2015


Claim:   President Obama is secretly importing 75,000 Muslims into the United States.


  FALSE: President Obama is "secretly importing" 75,000 Muslims into the U.S.
  TRUE:   The Obama administration has modified immigration regulations to allow more Syrian war refugees to enter the U.S.

Example:   [Collected via email, January 2015]

There is a new article out that I would like to know if it is valid or not. The headline reads: BREAKING: Obama Secretly Begins Importing 75,000 Muslims Into These 7 States.


Origins:   On 29 January 2015, the Conservative Tribune published an article that gained a good deal of online attention with its headline proclaiming that President Obama was "secretly importing 75,000 Muslims" into the United States. However, a quick read of the article's opening paragraphs revealed the subject at hand was Syrian (not specifically Muslim) immigrants, and the 75,000 figure was a speculative one. Moreover, the article offered nothing to support the characterization of some process at work that was being carried out "secretly":

The Obama administration is preparing to bring as many as 75,000 Syrian immigrants into the United States over the next five years, most of them Muslim refugees fleeing the Islamic State.

The government plans to allow 10,000 Syrians to immigrate to America in 2015 alone, resettling them in seven or more states around the country.

The issue at hand was that the strict requirements of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allowed fewer than 400 Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war in that country to resettle in America in 2013-2014, a circumstance that brought criticism of the U.S. as too slow in responding to a major humanitarian crisis:

Since the war began, 3.8 million people have been forced to flee to neighboring countries amid the fight among the regime of Bashar al-Assad, rebels seeking to overthrow him and extremists with the Islamic State. The war has sparked one of the world's largest humanitarian crises.

"The displacement is massive," said Larry Bartlett, director of refugee admissions for the State Department. "For the most part, life as a (Syrian) refugee is pretty horrible."

Refugees have strained resources in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, leaving many without adequate housing, food or medicine, according to aid groups. Some have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean in smugglers' cargo ships.

The United States has accepted few Syrian refugees in recent years, sparking criticism that it was slow to respond. 323 Syrians were resettled in the U.S. in 2014, 36 in 2013.

With the Islamic State now controlling part of the country, more than 190,000 people have died in the war. U.S. military advisers are being sent to train moderate Syrian rebels who might oppose the extremist group.

Reuters explained that U.S. immigration law had made it nearly impossible for Syrian refugees to enter the U.S.:

That bar had made it impossible for anyone who had provided any support to armed rebel groups to come to the United States, even if the groups themselves receive aid from Washington.

The advocacy group Human Rights First said, for example, that the existing law had been invoked to bar a refugee who had been robbed of $4 and his lunch by armed rebels, and a florist who had sold bouquets to a group the United States had designated as a terrorist organization.

By early January [2014], 135,000 Syrians had applied for asylum in the United States. But the strict restrictions on immigration, many instituted to prevent terrorists from entering the country, had kept almost all of them out.

In response to this crisis, the Obama administration moved to modify the INA to remove restrictions that were preventing Syrian refugees from obtaining asylum in the U.S. This move was hardly one carried out "secretly," as it was published in the Federal Register on 5 February 2014 and reported by national news sources:

President Barack Obama's administration announced that it had eased some immigration rules to allow more of the millions of Syrians forced from their homes during the country's three-year civil war to come to the United States.

Only 31 Syrian refugees — out of an estimated 2.3 million — were admitted in the fiscal year that ended in October [2013], prompting demands for change from rights advocates and many lawmakers.

The rules changes granted exemptions on a case by case basis to the "material support" bar in U.S. immigration law, according to an announcement in the Federal Register signed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Just how many Syrians might eventually end up in the U.S. is unknown at this time. The U.S. hasn't yet set an upper limit on the number of Syrian refugees the country will admit; but the government is reportedly currently reviewing between 9,000 and 10,000 resettlement applications from Syrians, and the U.S. currently has an immigration cap of 70,000 total global refugees per year:

The State Department will resettle only the small minority [of Syrians] who are in the most dire need, including the very young, ailing and elderly, and people who have been persecuted by their government. Even so, applicants have to be screened by counter-terrorism agencies, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security in a process that is more selective than what is used for anyone else who wants to enter the United States.

Anne C. Richard, assistant secretary of State for population, refugees and migration, said at a U.N. meeting in Geneva that the Obama administration was going to step up its efforts because the refugee outflow had swelled "to a mass exodus."

She said that the department is considering 9,000 resettlement applications and that "we expect admissions from Syria to surge in 2015 and beyond."

At the Geneva meeting, 28 countries agreed to take in 66,000 refugees. But that was far short of the 300,000 Syrians that officials at the U.N. refugee agency believe need to be resettled.

Since the population of Syria is about 87% to 90% Muslim, it's likely that however many refugees from that country are eventually admitted to the U.S., a good many of them will be Muslim. However, U.S. immigration regulations are not religion-specific, Syria's population is 10% Christian, and Christians have been particularly beleaguered by the warring factions there:

Christians, who form about 10 percent of the Syrian population, are essentially middle men in this civil war, caught between Assad's army and the Sunni rebels.

Under Assad, Christians had more rights than in many Middle Eastern countries, with the freedom to worship and run schools and churches. Their rights were limited however. The Syrian constitution says the president must be Muslim, for example.

According to UN reports, rebel fighters have targeted Christian communities, shooting up factories and detonating car bombs in Christian neighborhoods.

In addition, many Christians — in Syria and in the United States — fear the fate of Christians should Sunni fundamentalists take power in Syria.

Last updated:   30 January 2015


    Burke, Daniel.   "Syria Explained: How It Became a Religious War."

    CNN.com.   4 September 2013.

    Kenning, Chris.   "Syrian Refugees Coming to Kentucky, Elsewhere in U.S."

    USA Today.   29 January 2015.

    Rihter, Paul.   "U.S. to Accept Syrian Refugees in Greater Numbers After Slow Start."

    Los Angeles Times.   10 December 2014.

    Zengerle, Patricia.   "U.S. Eases Rules to Admit More Syrian Refugees, After 31 Last Year."
    Reuters.   5 February 2014.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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