The Obama administration is pushing to increase the number of refugees it accepts from Syria despite continued concerns about the possible threat to national security posed by individuals displaced from the Middle East.
The Washington Examiner reports that a White House official overseeing immigration policy recently told a task force organized by the National Association of Counties that the administration wants to ensure that it can accept more refugees as the civil war in Syria continues to unfold.
“We want to make sure that we can increase our numbers of refugees that are able to settle here,” Felicia Escobar, special assistant to the president for immigration policy, said. “The need globally is so, so, so massive right now, given all the displacement and conflict around the world, but we also know that we have to do it in a way that’s smart.”
President Obama last September ordered the government to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016. The United States’ move to accept more refugees from Syria has sparked national security concerns in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, that together killed over 140 people.
According to polling conducted in November, a majority of U.S. voters did not want the country to accept refugees from Syria following the coordinated shootings and suicide bombings in Paris.
Following the attacks, a number of governors across the country moved to block Syrian refugees from resettling in their states, and lawmakers in the House also passed legislation mandating additional screening requirements on refugees coming from Syria and Iraq.
The decision to accept thousands of refugees from Syria has also become an issue in the 2016 presidential race.