The Obama administration plans to admit 110,000 refugees to the United States next fiscal year, Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress on Tuesday.
The proposed level of admissions represents a 57 percent increase over the 70,000 refugees admitted in FY 2015 and a nearly 30 percent increase over the administration’s FY 2016 refugee admissions target of 85,000, including more than 10,000 Syrian refugees.
Following Kerry’s announcement, the Senate’s most vocal critic of Obama’s immigration policies — Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions — chastised the administration for ignoring the American people’s “opposition” and the “documented link between terrorism” and individuals admitted as refugees.
“The common sense concerns of the American people are simply ignored as the Administration expands its reckless and extreme policies,” Sessions said in a statement.
According to Republicans like Sessions, terrorists are currently seeking to infiltrate the refugee flow as a means of entering the West and have already done so in Europe. Indeed top national security officials have warned that the United States lacks complete vetting capabilities in terror-hot beds like Syria to suss out potential risks.
“Regardless, President Obama and his Administration are now pushing their extreme policies even further by stubbornly placing the requests of the United Nations above the safety of the American people by surging refugee admissions to 110,000,” Sessions said.
He noted further that, in addition to the national security risks, refugees are particularly costly, because, unlike other categories of immigrants to the U.S., refugees are immediately eligible for public benefits upon admission to the United States. Sessions specifically cited Heritage Foundation expert Robert Rector’s estimate that that the total lifetime cost of admitting 10,000 refugees is $6.5 billion.
“The simple fact is that it would be safer and more cost-effective to establish safe zones for refugees as close to their homes as possible—particularly for those from the Middle East,” Sessions said. “One estimate found that resettling one refugee in the United States was nearly 12 times more expensive than providing care for that refugee abroad. With the prospect for a cease-fire in the region, there is even more reason to focus on providing temporary support for displaced persons in the region.”
On the House side, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte expressed frustration at the Obama administration’s continued deafness to national security warnings and the interests of Americans.
“We must remain compassionate toward refugees but we also need to make sure that we use commonsense,” the Virginia Republican said in a statement. “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. 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.”