The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman says the Obama administration is considering allowing a large influx of refugees from Syria into the United States.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, was among the lawmakers who met Wednesday with Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as Assistant Secretary Anne Richard, about the refugee crisis.
"Secretary Kerry initially said that the Obama administration is seeking a reasonable increase in refugees allowed into the United States in the upcoming fiscal year," Grassley said in a statement. "But when pressed, the administration indicated that they were considering opening the floodgates and using emergency authority to go above what they proposed to Congress in today's consultation. The administration also has not ruled out potentially paroling thousands of Syrians into the United States."
The administration must consult with Congress on resettlement issues and provide notification, but as White House principal deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters Wednesday, the law does not require specific legislation to increase the number of refugees admitted.
Schultz said the administration's position is that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go, but he said there needs to be a diplomatic solution.
"The refugee crisis is a symptom of the horrendous conditions in Syria. ... At the end of the day the only true resolution to this is a Syria that is safe for them to return home to," Schultz said.
Grassley said the administration needs to be careful in accepting refugees to ensure there are not ISIS supporters among them.
"The United States welcomes more refugees than the rest of the world’s countries combined, and there’s no question that we need to continue to do our part to help with the crisis that is unfolding in the Middle East and Europe," Grassley said. "But, the administration also needs to enlist the help of other capable, affluent nations in the Middle East to deal with the crisis in Syria to care for those who are fleeing violence and persecution."
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