Kerry to meet with lawmakers about migrant crisis

U.S. has accepted only about 1,500 Syrians so far, a tiny pecentage of the 11.6 million people who have been uprooted

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The U.S. is vowing to help its European allies with an escalating migrant crisis. In two meetings behind closed doors, Secretary of State John Kerry plans to brief congressional lawmakers on how many more Syrian refugees the administration is willing to take in.

Kerry is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with the House and Senate Judiciary committees. Earlier this week, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kerry’s predecessor, called for a “concerted global effort” to assist the refugees.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday that the Obama administration has been looking at a “range of approaches” for assisting U.S. allies as they struggle to accommodate 340,000 people freshly arrived from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Many are fleeing parts of Iraq and Syria that are under the ISIS’s control.

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While Germany braces for some 800,000 asylum seekers this year, the U.S. has not said if it will increase its worldwide quota for resettling refugees from the current 70,000.

Only a fraction of those would be Syrians, who must first navigate a multiyear application process before learning if they can start a new life in the United States. Kerry’s briefings will also canvass migrant exoduses from Central America and elsewhere.

The U.S. resettlement process for refugees, as it stands, is slow. They can wait around three years to find out if they can move to the U.S., meaning Washington would not be able to offer Europe much in quick assistance. Throughout Syria’s 4 and half year civil war, the U.S. 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.

Asked directly if the Obama administration felt responsible to share Europe’s refugee burden, Earnest stressed U.S. support thus far that $4 billion has been dedicated in humanitarian aid, more than any other country has provided, and ongoing diplomatic work to resolve Syria’s conflict peacefully.

The diplomacy appears nowhere near ending violence that started in 2011 with a crackdown by the government of President Bashar Assad on political opponents, spawning an armed insurgency and eventually leading to ISIS extremists seizing much of the country.

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