The United States is prepared to increase the number of refugees it resettles by at least 5,000 next year as European countries struggle to accommodate tens of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. Two officials and a congressional aide said that Secretary of State John Kerry told members of Congress in a private meeting today that the United States will boost its worldwide quota for resettling refugees from 70,000 to 75,000 next year, and that number could rise. A fraction of those would be from Syria. Kerry said after the meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the US would increase the number of refugees it is willing to take in, but he did not give a specific number.
"We are looking hard at the number that we can specifically manage with respect to the crisis in Syria and Europe," he said. "That's being vetted fully right now." The officials and the congressional aide spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the private meeting on the record. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday that the Obama administration has been looking at a "range of approaches" for assisting US allies with 340,000 people freshly arrived from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Throughout Syria's 4½-year civil war, the US has accepted only about 1,500 Syrians—a tiny percentage of the 11.6 million people who have been chased out of the country or uprooted from their homes. (Read more refugees stories.)