State Department Planning To Admit At Least 5,000 More Refugees

A Syrian family disembarks from the Greek government chartered Eleftherios Venizelos ferry at the port of Piraeus on September 9, 2015. Thousands of refugees arrived in Piraeus by goverment chartered ferry from the overcrowded Greek islands, especially the island of Lesbos. EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled major plans Wednesday …
Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

The Obama administration is planning to resettle 5,000 more refugees into the U.S. next year and that number could go much higher, Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers Wednesday in a closed door meeting, according to multiple reports.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Kerry told lawmakers the administration is planning to increase the number of refugees from the past three year’s level of 70,000 to at least 75,000. When asked for a number, aides told the Journal, Kerry said about 100,000.

With the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, the United States has been under pressure to increase its level of participation and accept more Syrian refugees. According to a senior State Department official in addition to increasing the number of Syrian refugees the administration would also like to admit more African refugees as well.

“And so we have been building up to 70,000, had it there at three years, and the thinking was we could now – the thinking all along this year was we could move to increasing it, and some sort of a modest increase,” the senior State Department official said.

“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 question becomes: Will Congress support that?” the official added, noting that some would like to see a larger number sooner.

The U.S. is expected to resettle about 1,800 Syrian refugees this fiscal year despite the security concerns some Republican lawmakers have raised about the possible risk of admitting terrorists.

“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,” Kerry said after the meeting according to ABC News. “That’s being vetted right now and at the appropriate time we’ll have the exact number.”