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Obama planning to admit 10K Syrian refugees

The Hill logo The Hill 9/10/2015 Jordan Fabian
Obama planning to admit 10K Syrian refugees © Provided by The Hill Obama planning to admit 10K Syrian refugees

The U.S. is preparing to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, the White House said Thursday.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama has directed his team to drastically increase the number of Syrians allowed to resettle in U.S. in the next fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1.

The U.S. has come under pressure from lawmakers and human-rights groups to do more to help European nations struggling to handle the growing migrant crisis.

The administration plans to resettle 1,800 refugees from Syria this year, far less than countries such as Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom have agreed to accept.

An estimated 4 million Syrians have fled the multi-faction conflict involving government forces, rebels and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Earnest indicated the move would necessitate raising the U.S.’s worldwide cap on refugees, which has been at 70,000 for the past three years.

“We are looking to increase the number beyond 70,000," Earnest said.

The plight of the refugees has attracted attention on the campaign trail.

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, for example, has called on the U.S. to take in as many as 65,000 refugees from Syria by the end of next year. Hillary Clinton has called for a global conference to tackle the crisis.

But Republicans running for the White House have mostly rejected taking in the refugees, warning of the security risks.

Syria is a hotbed of activity for Islamic militants, with many of them fighting in the country's long-running civil war.

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