US to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees, says White House
Updated: 2015-09-11 10:11
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington September 3, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
Earnest said national security was a top concern for admitting Syrians, a country rife with anti-American militants, noting that intensive security screening for refugees could take up to 18 months.
"I do feel confident in telling you that the president will not sign off on a process that cuts corners when it comes to the basic safety and security of the American people and the U.S. homeland," Earnest told reporters.
The additional background checks and processing will require a "significant financial commitment" from Congress, Earnest said.
Secretary of State John Kerry met with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, a requirement before the administration can change the number of refugees allowed. Committee Chair Chuck Grassley said he welcomed the additional 10,000 but that Kerry was not clear about whether additional refugees would be allowed later.
"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. 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 Republican lawmaker said in a statement.
Congress cannot block the administration from setting limits on the number of refugees it admits from each region. But it can block funding needed for staffing agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services that handle the screening and resettlement procedures.