The U.S. has admitted about 4,000 Syrian refugees, the State Department said Wednesday. That's a higher number than was believed, but still well short of the goal of 10,000 refugees by the end of September.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the number of refugees admitted is "up around 4,000 now." The most recent number had been 2,500 refugees.
The plan to admit 10,000 refugees, which President Obama proposed in September, has been met with contempt from Republican lawmakers who claim accepting these refugees is a threat to national security.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was one of 31 governors to protest the admission of Syrian refugees last fall, and voiced Republicans' concerns that "opening our door to [the refugees] irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril."
The State Department maintains that each refugee is thoroughly vetted before being granted entry into the U.S., even if it slows the process down.
According to the State Department, "the total processing time varies depending on an applicant's location and other circumstances, but the average time from the initial [U.N. Refugee Agency] referral to arrival as a refugee in the United States is about 18-24 months."
Kirby said the department "take[s] the goal that the president set very seriously" and will make good on the promise come the end of September.