The U.S. announced Sunday it would raise the number of refugees accepted annually to 100,000 in 2017 from 70,000 in 2015, the New York Times reported. The move came after the Obama administration said it would increase the number of Syrian refugees accepted to 10,000, beginning with the new fiscal year in October.
Secretary of State John Kerry made the announcement in Berlin where he was speaking with German officials about how to handle the current refugee crisis. The number of refugee visas accepted by the U.S. would rise to 85,000 in the next fiscal year and to 100,000 the following year.
“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.”
State Department officials said resettling 70,000 refugees in 2015 would cost about $1.1 billion. Many of the additional refugees the U.S. planned to accept would be Syrian, the Associated Press reported. President Barack Obama has the authority to expand the number of refugees the U.S. takes in, but the Congress has the authority to approve or disapprove additional funding. Some Republican lawmakers have expressed hesitancy in accepting more refugees, saying the U.S. could potentially be admitting terrorists.
The U.S. would accept Syrian refugees this fiscal year from a list put together by the United Nations, State Department officials said. Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, it has led to the deaths of more than 200,000 people and the displacement of millions.
The 28-member European Union has struggled to find a policy solution to the refugee crisis. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has backed a quota system, which would have member countries take in refugees based on their economic conditions and populations. However, some Central and Eastern European nations, such as Hungary, have rejected this proposal. Meanwhile, Germany expects 800,000 refugees to cross its borders this year.