WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) — President Barack Obama‘s administration plans to increase the number of worldwide refugees accepted into the United States next year to at least 110,000 — a nearly 30 percent jump from those welcomed in 2016.
Secretary of State John Kerry briefed Congress on Tuesday about the White House decision. Obama’s plan for the 2017 fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1, would accept 110,000 refugees fleeing persecution and conflict throughout the world — a nearly 60 percent increase over the 2015 fiscal year.
The Wall Street Journal reports 40,000 refugees would be authorized from the region of Near East/South Asia, which includes Syria. About 35,000 refugees would be accepted from Africa and 14,000 refugee slots were not listed as allocated.
The United States’ refugee policy has led to contentious debate in the 2016 presidential election, particularly over Syrian refugees and the threat posed by the Islamic State. In December, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump proposed a temporary ban on Muslims immigrating to the United States, whereas Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said she would like to see the United States accept more refugees.
Obama is expected to announce the U.S. commitment to helping refugees worldwide next week during the United Nations General Assembly meeting. The last year the U.S. committed to resettling a number as high was in 1995 under the administration of former President Bill Clinton, who set the ceiling at 112,000 following the Rwandan genocide.
Syria has been blighted by a complex civil war in which the Islamic State, the Syrian government and multiple Syrian rebel groups fight for control of territory. More than 250,000 people have died and more than 11 million have been displaced internally and abroad by the half-decade conflict that created a humanitarian crisis.