Durbin: US should accept 100,000 Syrian refugees

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Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinMcConnell pledges redo on Zika money after break Senate Democrats block Zika deal ahead of recess Senate Democrats want new round of Zika talks MORE (D-Ill.) said Tuesday that the United States should accept 100,000 Syrian refugees, far outpacing the number the administration said last week that it will accept. 

“What the administration has posed is modest: 10,000. Too modest,” the No. 2 Senate Democrat said. “As far as I am concerned, I believe we should be prepared to accept 100,000 — 100,000 Syrian refugees.”

Durbin's remarks come after White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the United States will accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees during the 2016 fiscal year that starts next month. 

The senior Democrat’s comments echo those of 72 House Democrats who signed a letter to the White House calling for the United States to accept 100,000 Syrian refugees. 

Durbin said that he visited one camp in Turkey that housed 10,000 refugees. 

The humanitarian crisis in Syria has been under the political spotlight since a photo of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy went viral earlier this month. 

The Illinois Democrat referenced that photo, saying, “When I think of Syria and this humanitarian crisis, I think of the photo of that little boy.” 

While Congress has tentatively backed doing more to help Syrian refugees, lawmakers are scarce on the details

Senate Republicans have voiced skepticism about the affect such an influx would have on national security, with the push to increase the number of accepted Syrian refugees also dividing the Republican presidential field. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as its counterpart in the House, are expected to dig into the refugee crisis, as well as broader Middle Eastern strategy, starting this week. 

Democrats have also called for Congress to pass an emergency appropriations bill to help the State Department pay for vetting the additional Syrian refugees. 

Durbin pushed back against criticism that the White House has contributed to the refugee crisis by not doing enough to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying it is “fundamentally unfair” to Obama.

“This is a crisis which reflects the Arab Spring,” he said. “It reflects changes in the Middle East that have been going on for 30 years-plus, and no country has really come up with a good solution to stop the bloodshed and killing in Syria.”

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