The Obama administration said Thursday it is willing to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year as European countries continue to grapple with the surge of thousands of people from war-torn regions in the Middle East and Africa.
The decision represents a significant increase compared to the 1,500 Syrian refugees expected in the U.S. by the end of this fiscal year, on Sept. 30th.
But it’s still far less than many Democrats have been calling on the administration to admit into the U.S.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has cited a Vietnam-era program that let in 14,000 refugees each month. And more than three months ago, 14 Democratic Senators sent a letter to President Obama asking the number be increased to 65,000 in the coming year.
The U.S. estimates it has accepted 1,500 Syrian refugees since the start of the conflict four years ago, compared to the one million refugees who came to the U.S. following the fall of Saigon. And some 50,000 were allowed entry into the U.S. during the Iraq war under a special expedited program.
There’s no plan right now for the kind of expedited process that allowed 50,000 refugees from the Iraq war to come to the U.S., White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Thursday.
Related: Jean-Claude Juncker Unveils Emergency Plan for Refugees in Europe
The war in Syria is now the world’s single-largest driver of displacement.
“Given the scale of the population displaced by violence in Syria, it’s difficult to imagine a practical solution that includes bringing all those people to the U.S.,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Thursday.
“I don’t anticipate at this point that we would have a significant problem in trying to meet the ambitious goal that the president has laid out for admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees next year,” he added.
Since the crisis escalated in Europe, the administration has been working to figure out how many refugees the U.S. can take in.
The White House has repeatedly said the U.S. has provided significantly more financial help than any other country in the world — $4 billion since the start of the current crisis.
“We are looking at the number that we can specifically manage with respect to the crisis in Syria and Europe. That’s being vetted fully right now,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.
Officials tell NBC News that …Read More