WASHINGTON — President Obama, under increasing pressure to demonstrate that the United States is joining European nations in the effort to resettle Syrian refugees, has told his administration to take in at least 10,000 displaced Syrians over the next year.
At a briefing at the White House on Thursday, the press secretary, Josh Earnest, said the United States would “accept at least 10,000 refugees in the next fiscal year,” which begins Oct. 1.
Earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry, said at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill that that the total number of refugees taken in by the United States could rise to more than 100,000, from the current figure of 70,000. State Department officials said that not all of the additional 30,000 would be Syrians, but many would be.
Germany has talked about taking upward of 800,000, so by comparison the American effort would be relatively small. The State Department said yesterday that it usually takes 18 to 24 months for the Department of Homeland Security to determine if a refugee is eligible to be resettled here, after conducting checks of possible criminal or terrorist backgrounds. Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria more than four years ago the United States has taken only 1,300 refugees.
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White House officials have had frequent meetings on the crisis, and the issue is likely to become central in the presidential campaign.
Hillary Rodham Clinton called for the United States to take in more refugees and provide more aid during a speech on Wednesday at the Brookings Institution; for Republican candidates the issue will become enmeshed in the debate over immigration.
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