- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2016

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey has taken in almost as many Syrian refugees in the past month as it did in 2014 and 2015 combined, according to U.S. State Department data.

An analysis of the data by The Record (http://bit.ly/2anvPwd ) newspaper found that 194 refugees- out of some 7,762 -have settled in New Jersey since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2015. While 24 were settled in New Jersey in the first two quarters of the fiscal year, 90 arrived from April through June and 80 came since July 1.

The increase is the result of a “surge” of employees from the state and homeland security departments volunteering to work in refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday. He said it is not a reduction in the vetting process.

“We have not shortcut the process and in fact we have added security checks,” Johnson said.

Some 76 of the 80 recent arrivals went to Elizabeth and Jersey City. Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said through a spokeswoman that his office had nothing to do with the program. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop praised the new arrivals.

“We have made a commitment to work with the president, the secretary of Homeland Security and his team to make sure that people are in a safe environment that they have an opportunity at life,” Fulop said.

A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie said the Republican governor has consistently stated that his opposition to the program is rooted in the “inadequate security vetting, safeguards and assurances being offered by the federal government.”

Johnson said he had no concerns about refugees posing a threat. He said the program is on track to meet President Obama’s goal of settling 10,000 people by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, and that the department is working to encourage refugees to work with security officials to combat terrorism.

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Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com

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