By Anna Bondi
Secretary of State John Kerry announced on September 20 the United States’ plan to raise the annual cap on migrants allowed into the country.
Presently, the cap is 70,000 migrants, but it is expected to rise to 80,000 in the next fiscal year, and to 100,000 in 2017. Many of these migrants will include refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war, as well as other conflict zones in the Middle East. As of mid-September, the United States has accepted 1,500 Syrian refugees, but the numbers are expected to rise to 10,000 over the course of the next year.
Upon announcing the new proposal, Kerry said, “This step that I am announcing today, I believe is in keeping with the best tradition of America as a land of second chances and a beacon of hope.”
Although the Obama administration has high hopes for this plan, many conservatives are concerned that this could open new opportunities for terrorist organizations to infiltrate the United States, according to USA Today.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said in a joint statement, “ISIS and other terrorist groups have made it abundantly clear that they will use the refugee crisis to try to enter the United States.”
This proposal has become a hot topic on the campaign trail and has received mixed reviews. Presidential candidates who agree that refugees cannot be accommodated include Carly Fiorina (R), Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R), and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
“We are a welcoming nation, and we have accepted a lot of refugees, and I think we will continue to do so. But we also can’t accept the whole world, so I think there are some limits,” Paul told the Guardian.
On the other hand, those that support taking in more refugees are Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ohio Governor John Kasich (R), former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Donald Trump (R).
“We’ve always been a country that’s been willing to accept people who have been displaced. I would be open to that if it can be done in a way that allows us to ensure that among them are not infiltrated,” said Rubio to the Boston Herald Radio.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) found a midpoint between the two views. “The United States has a long history of response to humanitarian disasters and this should be no exception. Our immediate role should be to support our regional allies who are on the front lines through public and private assistance to the international organizations who are best poised to administer aid,” he said. He does not believe that the U.S. should allow refugees to enter, but that the relocation effort should be funded.
European countries are struggling financially and geographically to accommodate the influx of refugees coming into the continent from the Middle East. If the Obama administration’s plan passes, this may release some of the stress on Europe.