As several hundred refugees board planes bound for the U.S., they're not only putting the hellish experiences of the Syrian civil war behind them -- they represent the fulfillment of a promise U.S. leaders made a year ago to help shoulder the burden as civilians escape en masse.
On August 29, several hundred Syrian refugees boarded passenger jets headed for places like bustling New York City, sun-drenched California and small-town Maine. With their arrival, the U.S. will have taken in 10,000 Syrian refugees, according to the Associated Press, meeting President Barack Obama's goal when he outlined a plan to help resettle people who have been displaced by war.
Overall, the U.S. is taking in just a small number of refugees compared to European countries like Germany, which have absorbed hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing not only Syria, but chaotic Libya and conflict-ridden countries like Afghanistan.
Administration officials dismissed concerns about terrorists hiding among the refugees.
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“Refugees are the most thoroughly screened category of travelers to the United States, and Syrian refugees are subject to even greater scrutiny,” U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells told the Associated Press.
The refugee resettlement program has become a contested issue during the 2016 presidential race, with Republican candidate Donald Trump calling it a "Trojan horse" for terrorists, USA Today reported. Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is among a group of state leaders who have tried to fight the resettlement program and bar refugees from resettling in particular states.
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has said the U.S. isn't doing enough, and called for a plan to admit an additional 65,000 refugees, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Among the refugees who departed Jordan for the U.S. on August 29 is the Jouriyeh family.
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As his family prepared to settle in San Diego, 49-year-old Nadim Fawzi Jouriyeh told the AP he's both nervous and excited. The move, he said, inspires "fear and joy, fear of the unknown and our new lives, but great joy for our children's lives and future."