U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told legislators on Wednesday that he believes the United States should increase the number of refugees that Washington absorbs per annum to 100,000 people, the New York Times reports, citing congressional staffers and Obama White House officials.
The proposed refugee policy would mark a 30,000 person increase from the 2015 limit of 70,000. Given that the 2015 fiscal year cycle ends on September 30, if instituted, Kerry’s policy proposal could begin to be implemented in a matter of weeks.
The State Department’s increasing interest in the refugee issue comes at a time when Middle Eastern and North African migrants continue to storm into Europe.
Publicly, the Obama administration has noted that it wants to bring in 75,000 refugees next year, but Kerry’s proposal appears to differentiate from the official stated position of the White House.
“We are committed to increasing the number of refugees that we take, and we are looking hard at the number that we can specifically manage with respect to the crisis in Syria and Europe,” Secretary Kerry said after meeting with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Additionally, a senior State Department official told the Times that Africans and Syrians would most benefit from Kerry’s proposal to boost the refugee intake number.
The Times notes that establishment Republicans and Liberals in Congress have also called for America to take in more Mideast refugees.
“For months, I have urged the administration to dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees it would accept in the face of this crisis,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told the New York Times after his meeting with Kerry.
Senator Lindsey Graham added on Tuesday: “We should take our fair share. We are good people. I don’t think the average American has any idea what it’s like to live in the Mideast right now.”
Senator John McCain took to the Senate floor Wednesday and stood next to an image of a dead Syrian child, stating “This image has haunted the world… But what should haunt us even more than the horror unfolding before our eyes is the thought that the United States will continue to do nothing meaningful about it.”
And Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called this week for an “emergency global gathering” at the United Nations to devise plans to absorb those fleeing from the civil war in Syria.