President Obama wants the U.S. to take 30 percent more refugees in 2017, the administration told Congress on Tuesday, calling for Americans to do more on the world stage at a time when many voters are already balking at the current pace.
The announcement seems designed to boost Mr. Obama’s hand ahead next week, when he’s scheduled to host a summit on the sideline of the U.N., pressing international leaders for action on a global refugee crisis.
At home, though, his new refugee target likely to renew controversy over the ability of the U.S. to absorb newcomers, particularly from countries where vetting is not easy, and where terrorist networks have expressed an interest in inserting operatives into the refugee stream.
“The common sense concerns of the American people are simply ignored as the administration expands its reckless and extreme policies,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and chairman of the Senate’s immigration subcommittee.
The administration’s target for fiscal year 2017 is 110,000 refugees, up from the 85,000 goal in 2016 and 70,000 in 2015. Just a few weeks ago, the State Department was hinting at a target of 100,000 refugees next year, and it’s not clear why the additional 10,000 were added.
So far, no target has been set for Syrians — the most controversial population of refugees — but the administration said it expects a significantly higher number next year. At the current pace, some 30,000 could be approved for resettlement over the next 12 months.