The image of a drowned 3-year-old boy in small sneakers has revitalized the call from humanitarian groups asking the world to protect fleeing Syrians.
But it is not just European countries who are grappling with how to absorb the 4 million Syrians who have fled their country since the beginning of the unrest and an estimated 130,000 who are estimated to need to be permanently resettled. The Obama administration is facing mounting pressure to accept more refugees for resettlement here at home.
As the deadline looms for the administration to set annual refugee target numbers at the end of September, aid groups and a coalition of members on Capitol Hill are asking the president to dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. In 2015, the U.S. had a target of allowing 70,000 refugees total into the United States. Refugee advocates and senators want to see that number almost doubled. They want 65,000 Syrian refugees—half of the total number that the United Nations estimates will need to be relocated—to be resettled in the United States by the end of 2016.
“The Syrian refugee crisis is perhaps the most serious challenge to the legal obligation to protect refugees since World War II,” 14 Democratic senators wrote in a letter to the president in May. “We cannot expect countries hosting Syrian refugees to continue shouldering such a disproportionate burden if the United States and other industrialized countries do not begin resettling many more Syrian refugees.”