Senior U.S. officials said Wednesday that the United States plans to increase the number of refugees it takes in by 5,000 next year. Officials said that an unspecified number of Syrians will be included in those refugees.
A senior State Department official said the United States has taken in nearly 70,000 refugees per year over the past three years. The official added, when speaking on a conference call with reporters, that the U.S. was planning on “some sort of modest increase” in 2016, Reuters reports.
The State Department official also said that administration officials claimed the number could increase significantly. And the number of refugees from Syria and sub-Saharan Africa will be included. Currently, the refugee figures do not include Syrians, who are responsible for the migrant flow causing problems in Europe.
“When we talk about increasing overall numbers, we’re talking about increases for people from around the world,” the official said. “In addition to bringing in more Syrians, which is the plan, we would like to admit more African refugees next year.” This official also spoke on condition of anonymity, according to Reuters.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said to reporters at the Capitol that Washington was “committed to” allowing Syrians, who are fleeing from war in their country, into the U.S. He added that officials are “looking hard at the number that we specifically can manage.”
Kerry also told lawmakers that he would most likely come back to Congress to request to take in more refugees, according to the Wall Street Journal. Aides said Kerry suggested that the number could be 100,000 or roughly 30,000 more than this year.
One aide said that “they finally recognize that an additional 5,000 is not a serious response.” The aid spoke on condition of anonymity, according to Reuters.
Officials with the Obama administration say that President Barack Obama wishes to continue to have a voice and be a world leader in regards to the humanitarian crisis, WSJ reports.
“Given what’s going on in the world today, I know that there’s a lot of people outside the administration, and inside the administration, too, in very senior positions, who would like to increase it significantly,” the senior State Department official said. “The question becomes will Congress support that? Can we move this process that we have, that doesn’t turn on a dime, to start bringing larger numbers sooner? That’s hard.”