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Obama Increases Number of Syrian Refugees for U.S. Resettlement to 10,000

President Barack Obama is facing pressure to increase the number of Syrian refugees that the United States will take in. In a recent announcement, he told his administration that they will take in over 10,000 Syrians in the next year.

Republicans are worried about the measure, claiming that it will leave the United States vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

“Our enemy now is Islamic terrorism, and these people are coming from a country filled with Islamic terrorists,” said Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York. “We don’t want another Boston Marathon bombing situation.”

However, John Earnest, the White House press secretary made it clear that refugees were some of the most heavily screened individuals in the country.

“Refugees go through the most robust security process of anybody who’s contemplating travel to the United States,” Mr. Earnest said. “Refugees have to be screened by the National Counter Terrorism Center, by the F.B.I. Terrorist Screening Center. They go through databases that are maintained by D.H.S., the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. There is biographical and biometric information that is collected about these individuals.”

New York Times reports:

The United States once offered refuge to tens of thousands at a time. In 1979, it provided sanctuary to 111,000 Vietnamese refugees and in 1980 almost doubled that number to 207,000. Around the same time, the United States took in more than 120,000 Cuban refugees during the Mariel boatlift, including more than 80,000 in one month alone.

But after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the number of refugees allowed into the United States slowed sharply, dropping to 27,131 in 2002. The numbers have risen steadily since then and last year amounted to 69,987 — just below a cap of 70,000. Most refugees need at least a year and sometimes two to navigate the system.

For refugees fleeing war or fearing for their lives, the United States can no longer provide anything approaching immediate sanctuary, said Sarah Margon, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch. “The system is just too bogged down in bureaucratic impediments,” she said.

Germany has talked about taking more than 800,000 Syrian refugees, thousands of whom have already flooded train and bus stations throughout Europe. Even Venezuela has promised to take 20,000 refugees.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

Photo credit: Crooks and Liars.


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