Date
24 July 2017
Syrian refugees cross into Jordan with their families. The US is ramping up its intake of Syrians displaced by war but critics say the plan does not go far enough. Photo: Reuters
Syrian refugees cross into Jordan with their families. The US is ramping up its intake of Syrians displaced by war but critics say the plan does not go far enough. Photo: Reuters

US to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees

At least 10,000 Syian refugees will be taken by the United States in the next two years.

President Barack Obama has directed his administration to prepare for the arrivals, according to the White House.

Reuters is reporting it’s the first specific commitment by the US toward increasing its acceptance of refugees from the war-torn country.

Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the US has taken in 1,500 refugees, with 300 more expected by October.

But refugee advocates and some members of Congress said taking in an additional 10,000 refugees does not go far enough toward addressing the humanitarian crisis triggered by the war, which has prompted a massive refugee influx into Europe.

In a letter to House members seen by Reuters, Democratic Representative David Cicilline asked Obama to accept 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016.

Religious groups have called for 100,000.

European countries have taken in waves of migrants fleeing violence.

Germany allowed 20,000 in over the weekend and is preparing for 800,000 this year.

Melanie Nezer, vice president of HIAS, a global refugee advocacy group, said allowing 10,000 more refugees from Syria is not an adequate response to the crisis at hand.

“This is totally within the realm of what the current system on autopilot could do. This is not time for autopilot. This is time to really ramp things up,” said Nezer.

The US is conducting air strikes in Syria as part of its effort to fight against Islamic State.

It currently admits annually a total of 70,000 refugees from around the world and is due to increase that total by 5,000 for the fiscal year starting in October.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest would not say whether the 10,000 Syrians would be a part of or in addition to that total.

Earnest said national security was a top concern for admitting Syrians, a country rife with anti-American militants, noting that intensive security screening for refugees could take up to 18 months.

“I do feel confident in telling you that the president will not sign off on a process that cuts corners when it comes to the basic safety and security of the American people and the U.S. homeland,” Earnest said.

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