With tens of thousands of civilians fleeing from the current conflict in Syria, creating what has been described as a refugee crisis, Secretary of State John Kerry met with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding increasing the total number of refugees allowed in the U.S. from 70,000 to 75,000 in 2016.
Kerry discussed the increase during a meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. After the meeting, he said that there would be an increase, but did not specify the exact number.
“We are looking hard at the number that we can specifically manage with respect to the crisis in Syria and Europe,” Kerry said. “That’s being vetted fully right now.”
The Guardian reported that a State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters that the proposal is for an increase of 5,000 refugees, and is something the State Department has been considering all year.
“Given what’s going on in the world today, there’s a lot of people outside the administration, and inside the administration too, who would like to increase it significantly,” the official said. “The question becomes will Congress support that? Can we move this process that we have – it doesn’t turn on a dime – to start bringing larger numbers sooner? That’s hard.”
The U.S. began launching airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Sept. 2014, and has led a coalition targeting the militants with countries such as Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Emirates.
On Wednesday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the country also plans to begin launching airstrikes because the refugee crisis “cannot be solved just by receiving them.”
“At the moment there are millions of Syrians who are displaced. There are refugee camps—in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Turkey—receiving 4 to 5 million Syrians,” Valls said. “And we’re not going to receive 4 to 5 million Syrians, so the problem has to be dealt with at source.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took to the Senate floor on Wednesday with a picture of the dead body of 3-year-old Syrian Refugee, Aylan Kurdi, who drowned while attempting the journey to Greece with his 5-year-old brother and mother.
McCain used the image to urge for “stronger leadership” from President Obama in Syria, and claimed that Americans should be haunted by the fact that “the United States will continue to do nothing meaningful” in terms of solving the conflict.
The Guardian noted that Germany has said it “expects 800,000 refugees to arrive this year,” and British prime minister David Cameron “has promised to take in 20,000 refugees,” which along with those taken in by the U.S., will still not be enough according to some refugee advocacy groups.
ABC News reported that while the U.S. has admitted 1,500 Syrian refugees over the last four years, “the numbers of those fleeing the conflict are staggering,” with over 322,000 refugees arriving in Europe this year, and nearly 20,000 arriving in Munich, Germany, this weekend.
Investigative journalist Ben Swann reported on the origin of ISIS in March, explaining the United States’ involvement in helping ISIS go from a “no-name group in Syria” to a group that was “heavily armed and trained by U.S. and Coalition Special Forces.”
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