U.S. To Accept Thousands More Refugees From Syria, Says John Kerry

The United States will soon accept thousands more refugees who are fleeing war in Syria, according to Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry announced the current cap of 70,000 migrants annually will be increased to 85,000 next fiscal year and 100,000 in 2017.

The U.S. will accept at least 10,000 refugees from Syria over the next year. According to CNN, the United States has taken in around 1,500 refugees from Syria so far.

The pressure of the Syrian refugee crisis has been mounting in Europe, where hundreds of thousands of refugees have migrated from Syria’s civil war and other Middle Eastern conflicts over the last few years.

Kerry’s announcement was made during a news conference in Berlin with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday. Kerry was in Berlin to hold talks with the German Foreign Minister about the collective response needed for the Syrian refugee crisis.

“This step that I am announcing today, I believe is in keeping with the best tradition of America as a land of second chances and a beacon of hope. And it will be accompanied by additional financial contributions to the humanitarian effort, not only from our government but from the American people. And that will become more specific in the next days.”

Most of the additional migrants will be refugees from Syria. Kerry said President Obama’s administration will ask Congress for funding, which will be needed to cover the extra cost of resettlement for the Syrian refugees and refugees from other countries as well.

Already there is much concern ISIS will use the Syrian refugee crisis to try to enter the U.S. According to the Washington Post, the reason accepting refugees is expensive is due to the refugees undergoing background checks, which were enacted after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. These checks have been taking anywhere from a year to two years, according to State Department figures.

Republican lawmakers Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte issued a joint statement on Sunday, stating their concerns over the refugee crisis being used by terrorists to get into the U.S.

“ISIS and other terrorist groups have made it abundantly clear that they will use the refugee crisis to try to enter the United States. Now, the Obama administration wants to bring in an additional ten thousand Syrians without a concrete and foolproof plan to ensure that terrorists won’t be able to enter the country. The administration has essentially given the American people a ‘trust me.’ That isn’t good enough.”

Kerry acknowledged the risks of taking in refugees from Syria.

“We want to take more. We understand the responsibility. We’d like to. But taking folks out of Syria, post 9/11, requires a very specific vetting process. We can target it. But we don’t have the money allocated by Congress to hire people necessary to do the job. We’re doing what we know we can manage immediately.”

What do you think of Kerry’s announcement regarding accepting refugees from Syria?

[Photo by Ahmet Sik/Getty Images]