The Obama administration took a substantial step forward in protecting refugees when it increased the worldwide cap on how many refugees this country will accept in fiscal year 2017.
With countries like Germany accepting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, the United States has fallen well behind Europe in responding to the humanitarian crisis.
This year, for instance, the worldwide cap in refugees is only 70,000. Under the announcement by Secretary of State John Kerry, that number will be increased to 85,000 in the Fiscal Year beginning on October 1, 2015, and to 100,000 in 2017. Most of the additional refugee slots are expected to be use by Syrian refugees fleeing ISIS and the Assad regime.
Although this is an important step forward, the United States needs to do more. There are currently nearly 4 million Syrian refugees outside of their country right now. One-in-six Syrians is a refugee. President Obama’s increase in the planner number of Syrians being resettled here will only relieve a small amount of the pressure on countries already receiving the refugees. For example, Turkey has taken in 2 million refugees.
The U.S. also lags behind many much smaller countries in the number of Syrian refugees being resettled. The U.S. has taken in 1,600 Syrians over the last two years, while Austria has received 18,000. Sweden has resettled more than 30,000.
An administration official said that the government wants to have a “steep ramp-up” in refugee resettlement to help those fleeing Syria. Getting meaningful and secure refugee processing in place right away is crucial. Our partners in Europe will not answer the call for human refugee policies if they don’t see the United States acting quickly. People are dying every day along the refugee trail. The sooner a legal pathway to asylum is provided the few children will die.