The Obama administration will increase the number of refugees allowed into the United States annually to 100,000 in 2017, The New York Times reports.
The current limit is 70,000, and that would go up to 85,000 in fiscal 2016, then to 100,000 annually in 2017, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday during meetings in Berlin.
Kerry also said he would be looking into ways to expand the number beyond 100,000 in later years while still maintaining the background check process.
"This step is in keeping with America’s best tradition as a land of second chances and a beacon of hope," Kerry said. "And it will be accompanied by continued financial contributions to the humanitarian effort — not only from the U.S. government, but from the American people. The need is enormous, but we are determined to answer the call."
Syrians fleeing their war-torn country would benefit from the move, the Times noted, though a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week showed that most Americans don't want to take in more Syrian refugees, though they do want to do more to help them.
One of the fears is that terrorists from the Islamic State (ISIS) or other groups could infiltrate legitimate refugees and attack the country in the homeland. Kerry insisted the review process will be streamlined to avoid that.
Critics also complain that the refugees are fleeing to European nations and the United States, but are not being taken in in large numbers by neighboring Muslim countries. Saudia Arabia has offered to build mosques in Germany for the refugees.
The United States has received about 1,500 Syrians since the three-way conflict began there in 2011 between ISIS, the government of President Bashar Assad and the Free Syrian Army. European nations have taken in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, and numbers recently have been growing.
Germany is expecting 1 million immigrants this year.
Kerry's announcement comes a day after Anne Richard
, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, told National Public Radio that the move would be coming.
"I think that the most senior leadership at the State Department, the National Security Council and the White House want to bring more refugees and so that's something that we're very focused on right now," Richard said.
Pope Francis also has urged people to take families into their homes in Europe.
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