Influx of Iraqi refugees to US rose dramatically in March but still off pace for year

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

The number of Iraqi refugees admitted to the United States has risen sharply. But it's short of the pace needed to meet the Bush administration's target of 12,000 by the end of September.

The State Department says that 751 Iraqi refugees entered the country last month. That's up from 444 in February and 375 in January.

The new count puts total admissions for the current budget year at more than 2,600. That gives the administration six months to admit nearly 9,400 more refugees to hit its goal.

Iraqi refugees are subject to more security checks than those from almost all other nations. Advocacy group Refugees International says they're "very pleased" with the "substantial improvement."

The administration has come under criticism from advocacy groups and lawmakers for its poor performance on admitting Iraqi refugees who have fled violence since the start of the Iraq war.

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