Pres. Obama is demanding that Congress provide funding to resettle 110,000 refugees in FY2017. The request is an increase of 30% from FY2016 when Congress funded the resettlement of 85,000 refugees. In previous years, the United States resettled an average of 70,000 refugees per year.
The request comes just a week before Pres. Obama is scheduled to attend the Summit for Refugees and Migrants hosted by the United Nations. While his demand for the U.S. to resettle 110,000 refugees next fiscal year is an increase, it does fall well short of a request by a group of 41 non-governmental organizations who profit from refugee resettlement and were urging an increase to 200,000 per year.
"Despite opposition by the American people, a documented link between terrorism and individuals admitted to the United States as refugees, and over $19 trillion in debt, the Obama Administration has committed the United States to admitting 110,000 refugees during Fiscal Year 2017—a roughly 57 percent increase in the number of refugees the United States admitted as recently as FY 2015, and a roughly 29 percent increase from the Administration’s target for FY 2016," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said in response to the President's request. "The common sense concerns of the American people are simply ignored as the Administration expands its reckless and extreme policies."
Last year, FBI Director James Comey warned a House panel of the potential risks to the mass resettlement of refugees. He said the government can vet certain refugees until "the cows come home" but there isn't sufficient data available to ensure the safety and security of the American people. Terrorist groups have already said that they intend to use the refugee resettlement program to provide cover for their operatives.
"The Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Secretary of Homeland Security have acknowledged that terrorists could infiltrate the refugee population," Sen. Sessions said. "And for good reason—as it is clear that terrorists have done so successfully in the past."
"Unfortunately, President Obama unilaterally increases the number of refugees resettled in the United States each year and gives little thought as to how it will impact local communities," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). "The President also continues to ignore warnings from his own national security officials and plans to bring in even more Syrian refugees over the next year."
Commenting on the announcement, Re. Dave Brat, R-Va., said “The American people are always generous but we know that we can help 12 refugees in safe zones in their own home region for the cost of one refugee here in the United States and the welfare cost of just the federal level are now about $37,000 per person plus $26,000 per year at the state and local for education for two kids and so tell me who has run that by the voter and that is the source of citizen cynicism.”
Congress must pass a spending bill by September 30 in order to keep the federal government running for the start of FY2017, so there's an opportunity for it to respond to Pres. Obama's request over the next few weeks. Earlier this year, the House Appropriations Committee passed spending bills that would limit refugee resettlement to the FY2015 levels of 70,000 per year.
Polling has found that Americans generally embrace the resettlement of refugees, but not at the levels that Pres. Obama is demanding. A poll conducted by the Brookings Institute in May found that Democrats support the U.S. resettling 15,000 refugees per year, and Republicans support resettling 10,000 refugees per year.
For more information, see the Washington Times.
Updated: Wed, Nov 2nd 2016 @ 9:05am EDT