By Julia Edwards
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has taken in 8,000 Syrian refugees since October and is on track to meet President Barack Obama's goal of resettling 10,000 by the end of the fiscal year, a U.S. State Department official told reporters on Friday.
Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne Richard said additional U.S. personnel had been deployed to vet refugees overseas and that many other refugees had already been vetted and were awaiting resettlement.
The total number of Syrian refugees in the United States may even exceed the 10,000 goal by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, Richard and other administration officials said on a call with reporters.
Obama set a goal of welcoming 10,000 Syrian refugees from Syria's civil war to the United States, drawing criticism from Republicans in the U.S. Congress worried about admitting Syrians who pose a security threat.
Human rights advocates raised concerns over whether the administration would be able to meet its goal when less than 5,000 Syrians had been admitted halfway through the fiscal year.
"Monthly totals have climbed from low numbers of refugees submitted in the first half of the year to higher numbers recently. In May, June and July the impact of our investments in and enhancements to the process began to be realized," Richard said.
(Reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler)