The U.S. Will Take in More Syrian Refugees. It’s Still Not Enough.

The U.S. Will Take in More Syrian Refugees. It’s Still Not Enough.          

The U.S. Will Take in More Syrian Refugees. It’s Still Not Enough.          

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Sept. 10 2015 3:24 PM

The U.S. Will Take in More Syrian Refugees. It’s Still Not Enough.          

487208164-refugees-from-syria-pray-after-arriving-on-the-shores
Refugees from Syria pray after arriving on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos aboard an inflatable dinghy across the Aegean Sea from from Turkey on Sept. 7, 2015.

Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

Confirming what has seemed inevitable over the past few days, President Obama said on Thursday that the U.S. should take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, a significant increase given that the U.S. has allowed in just 1,434 Syrian refugees since the beginning of the four-year-old conflict.

According to the New York Times, Secretary of State John Kerry told a closed-door congressional committee that the overall number of refugees the U.S. is willing to accept could rise from 70,000 to 100,000. These numbers are all preliminary approximations, and it’s not clear how many of the newly admitted will be Syrian.

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And even at 100,000, it is still small potatoes compared with the 800,000 people Germany, a country with a population a fourth the size of America’s, is planning to take in this year. Still, given the scale of the global problem, it’s better than nothing.

You can expect Republicans to criticize the move, on the grounds that it could admit potential security threats to the United States. Already a group of senators who proposed a previous plan to admit more Syrians was denounced by opponents as the “jihadi caucus.” And some GOP candidates have said that the U.S. should deal directly with the violence in Syria before admitting more refugees. 

Given the impossible-to-ignore images coming out of Europe, it’s getting harder to say the U.S. shouldn’t share some of the burden of the unprecedented crisis. Even Donald Trump says, "I hate the concept of it, but on a humanitarian basis, with what's happening, you have to." 

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs.