The U.S. will take in thousands more refugees fleeing from the conflict in Syria over the next two years in response to a swelling crisis sweeping across the Middle East and into Europe, Secretary of State John Kerry said.
The U.S. will admit at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year, Kerry said after meeting with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The total number of refugees allowed to resettle will be raised to 100,000 in the 2017 fiscal year from 70,000 last year, he said.
“This step that I’m announcing today, I believe, is in keeping with the best tradition of America as a land of second chances and a beacon of hope,” Kerry told reporters in Berlin.
As many as 1 million people are expected to seek asylum in Germany this year as Europe grapples with its biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European Union leaders are due to discuss the crisis at an informal summit in Brussels on Wednesday.
Kerry said the U.S. government may take even more displaced people, though it was restrained in offering refuge to Syrians because of laws passed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that significantly increased security screening for those seeking a safe haven in the U.S.
“We cannot cut corners with respect to those security requirements,” Kerry said.