By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Head Photo Editor~
President Barack Obama raised his refugee intake goal from 85,000 to 110,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
This increase is the largest refugee intake since Clinton’s administration raised the ceiling to 112,000 in the fiscal year of 1995.
While the 30 percent increase has outraged conservatives, the goal still falls short of supporters’ expectations for the refugee program, as they have been urging the administration to take as many as 200,000 displaced people.
With an estimated 65.3 million people forcibly displaced by war, sectarian conflict and persecution in 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed the United States would take in even more refugees than its current goal, if possible.
A senior Obama administration official said the boost “is consistent with our belief that all countries should do more to help the world’s most vulnerable people.”
The report stated 45,000 refugees would come from the Near East/South Asia, and 35,000 would come from Africa. Left unallocated by the report are 30,000 slots.
Obama attended a U.N. Refugee Summit in New York on Sept. 19 in hopes of securing a financial plan for food and aid, as well as attempting to double the refugees taken in by countries each year.
Six countries – Jordan, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, Canada and Ethiopia – have partnered with the Obama administration and plan on announcing new pledges to accept refugees after the summit convenes.
“The administration is trying to send a signal to other countries that they should increase the number they resettle,” Jennifer Quigley, advocacy strategist for refugee protection with Human Rights First, said.
Syrian refugees have been the greatest humanitarian concern of the U.S. since the country was split by civil war and ISIS holdings.With a surge entering the United States in recent months, the country is on track to meet its goal of 10,000 Syrian refugees.
Increasing the influx of refugees has sparked controversy, leaving some Republicans concerned refugees may pose a threat citing examples of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the U.S.
Last year, almost two dozen states voted in opposition to accepting Muslim refugees and some states unsuccessfully sued the federal government over resettlement.
FBI Director James Comey described the emigration of refugees as “terrorist diaspora out of Syria.”
Senator Vern Buchanan (R., Fl.) penned President Obama a letter on Thursday sharing his concern.
“We are seeing a clear pattern in which a number of recent attacks have been carried out by ISIS terrorists with ties to Syria, including: the July 24 bombing of a music festival in Germany; the July 26 killing of a French priest; and the July 24 murder of a German woman with a machete,” Vern wrote. “Syrian refugees played a part, either as attackers or accomplices, in all three attacks.”
“In the context of this clear threat, your goal of admitting 10,000 Syrians as a part of a so-called ‘surge operation’ is extremely troubling… Terrorists are leaving Syria disguised as refugees and carrying out attacks in the West. The prudent course of action is to halt all admissions of Syrians into the U.S. until the safety of Americans can be guaranteed,” Vern said.
This volume of displaced persons is the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
In efforts to help, Turkey has resettled 1.6 million Syrian refugees. Pakistan is next in resettlement efforts at 1.5 million, and Lebanon has taken in 1.15 million refugees.