House Democrats urge Kerry to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees

House Democrats urge Kerry to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees
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Three House Democrats are calling on Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Pompeo announces Israeli settlements do not violate international law Deval Patrick's 2020 entry raises stakes in New Hampshire MORE to meet the administration's stated goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. before October. 

"This need has never been more urgent. As a result of the Syrian civil war, more than 400,000 civilians have been killed, and more than 4.8 million people have been forced to flee their homes," wrote Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) in a Monday letter. 

The State Department has settled 2,805 Syrian refugees during the first eight months of the fiscal year, according to the letter, which was released on World Refugee Day. 

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"Falling short of even this goal is not in keeping with our democratic values and professed role as a leader among nations and beacon of hope for those seeking safety from war," they added. 

"We must remain steadfast and resolute in who we are as a people and a nation: a beacon of hope for all those 'yearning to breathe free,'" they wrote. "In other words, the slow pace of current Syrian refugee admissions will not help our national security. In fact, it will only give credence to those who wish to undermine our values." 

The letter comes amid Republican efforts to clamp down on the number of refugees resettled in the U.S., particularly after the terrorist attack in Orlando carried out by Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in a 911 call during the attack. 

Proponents of refugee resettlement point out that the man was born in New York and argue that preventing refugees from entering the U.S. would not have prevented the attack. However, critics, including presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE, have focused on the man's parents, who came from Afghanistan. 

Republicans have also blocked efforts to create more visas for Afghan refugees next year through a program aiding interpreters for U.S. troops and government officials during the Afghanistan War. 

Moulton, a Marine veteran who served in Iraq, has been a leading proponent in the House for the program.

The United Nations said on Monday that the number of refugees and internally displaced persons has hit a record high of 65 million in 2015 — an increase of 5.8 million from the year before.