David French had this to say:

The Syrian Civil War touched off in 2011. Here are the Syrian-refugee admissions to the U.S. until Obama decided to admit more than 13,000 in 2016:

Fiscal Year 2011: 29

Fiscal Year 2012: 31

Fiscal Year 2013: 36

Fiscal Year 2014: 105

Fiscal Year 2015: 1,682

To recap: While the Syrian Civil War was raging, ISIS was rising, and refugees were swamping Syria's neighbors and surging into Europe, the Obama administration let in less than a trickle of refugees. Only in the closing days of his administration did President Obama reverse course — in numbers insufficient to make a dent in the overall crisis, by the way — and now the Democrats have the audacity to tweet out pictures of bleeding Syrian children?

It's particularly gross to see this display when the Obama administration's deliberate decision to leave a yawning power vacuum — in part through its Iraq withdrawal and in part through its dithering throughout the Syrian Civil War — exacerbated the refugee crisis in the first place. There was a genocide on Obama's watch, and his tiny trickle of Syrian refugees hardly makes up for the grotesque negligence of abandoning Iraq and his years-long mishandling of the emerging Syrian crisis.

The numbers appear accurate and are linked directly to a State Department source. Other than possibly highlighting the "grotesque negligence" mentioned above, why were there so few refugees admitted?

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    Which is the question? Why does the USA accept so few refugees overall (HINT: how has the issue been used politically during the last campaign? Who has been attacking the administration for allowing refugees at all, even in those small numbers?) or why the number of admissions has been rising so slowly?
    – SJuan76
    Jan 30, 2017 at 13:17
  • Almost exactly one year before running that article lambasting the Obama administration for not letting enough refugees in, David French wrote this article saying muslim immigration was terrible for the US nationalreview.com/2016/01/… I'd recommend getting news from more impartial sources, whose political views are not simply "everything the other side does is evil".
    – Gramatik
    Jul 20, 2018 at 19:54

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@Trashman's comment was basically correct. This is from an USA Today article marked as an opinion piece, but the policy changes that saw a large spike in 2016 are probably factual:

When the Obama administration began importing refugees from war-torn Syria, the American people were assured that this humanitarian gesture posed no risk to them. People coming to the United States would have to undergo an 18-24 month vetting process that would weed out potential terrorists. Press Secretary Josh Earnest guaranteed us that “those individuals who seek to enter the United States through the refugee resettlement program do so only after undergoing the most intensive screening of anybody who attempts to enter the United States." [...]

Moreover, in the spring of 2016 the Obama administration moved to slash the vetting period. A U.S. embassy employee told the Associated Press the process had been shortened to a mere 3 months. Others agreed that was the goal, but that the system was still taking much longer. This was not because the original plan was remarkably effective and subject to radical streamlining. Rather, Obama was attempting to achieve an arbitrary quota of 10,000 Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. by the end of the year, which the longer vetting process was delaying.

NYT confirms that there was such a goal in 2016. The numbers before aren't easy to explain, year-by-year.

But the first-hand account of one Syrian refugee who applied in 2013 seems to confirm the long (pre-2016) process:

Over 15 months I was interviewed five times – in person, over the phone, by the United Nations and by the United States. They asked me about my family, my politics, my hobbies, my childhood, my opinions of the U.S., and even my love life. No less than four U.S. government agencies had the opportunity to screen me. By the time I received my offer to live in the United States, the U.S. officials in charge of my case file knew me better than my family and friends do.

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