-- A month ahead of schedule, the Obama administration has announced that it has met a goal set a year ago to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees.
"On behalf of the President and his Administration, I extend the warmest of welcomes to each and every one of our Syrian arrivals, as well as the many other refugees resettled this year from all over the world," Rice wrote in the statement.
The U.S. government’s goal was to welcome 10,000 refugees within this fiscal year, which ends September 30th.
In total, nearly five million people have fled Syria since 2011, according to the U.N., the vast majority of which are living now in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.
A policy director at Church World Service, who has worked closely with the U.S. government and nonprofits to resettle Syrian refugees, described the 10,000-benchmark as sort of bitter-sweet. "It was sort of a meager goal to begin with," Jen Smyers told ABC News.
"This demonstrates that where there’s a will, there’s a way," Smyers continued. "But if we had been processing Syrian refugee applications for the last four years then many more people could be rebuilding their lives in safety, rather than risking their lives to take the very dangerous trip across the Atlantic."
"We would like to see the U.S. demonstrate more leadership on this," Smyers added, referencing the fact that the U.S. took in hundreds of thousand of Vietnamese refugees during and after their civil war.
Secretary of State John Kerry has said the U.S. plans to take in 85,000 refugees from around the world this year in total. "We recognize that more needs to be done to help those who are besieged inside Syria; more has to be done to assist refugees; more has to be done to support Syria’s neighbors, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey; and more has to be done to resolve this brutal conflict that has cost far too many lives and forced far too many people from their homes."
During a briefing today, State Department spokesperson John Kirby said he believed the U.S. would likely take in additional refugees from Syria this year.