The Obama administration is weighing additional steps to address the migrant crisis in Europe, including allowing more Syrian refugees into the United States. 

The State Department is leading an effort to “reconsider” how the U.S. can best deal with the growing humanitarian crisis, which has grabbed headlines around the world.

“It does appear the situation is worsening and that’s why the United States is considering additional steps it could take to help countries that are bearing the brunt of the burden,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday.

{mosads}Earnest stressed that no policy decisions have been made, but his comments mark a shift from last week, when he said he was “not aware of any impending policy change” when it comes to letting more Syrian refugees into the U.S. 

Tens of thousands of migrants displaced by the conflict in Syria have been streaming into Europe and Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan and Turkey. The crisis has triggered international outrage, fueled in part by the image of a dead three-year-old whose body was found on a Turkish beach last week.

The Obama administration has faced criticism from human rights groups, with some saying the U.S. has not done enough to address the crisis. 

The issue has attracted attention on the campaign trail. Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley has called on the U.S. to take in as many as 65,000 refugees from Syria by the end of next year. Fourteen Democratic senators have called on the administration to “significantly” increase the number of refugees it takes in. 

State Department officials have said the U.S. plans to take in 1,800 refugees by October, according to reports. 

If the Obama administration decides to admit more, it may need to raise an annual cap on refugees, which is determined by the president with congressional input. The cap currently stands at 70,000 refugees from around the world. 

Some Republicans have called on the U.S. to do more, but have cautioned that careful screening is needed to ensure that people who pose a terrorist threat are not let into the country.

The safety and security of Americans is “the top concern on the list” in the administration’s review, Earnest said. 

White House officials say the U.S. is already addressing the crisis in other ways. Earnest said the U.S. is the largest contributor of humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, spending $4 billion since the crisis began. 


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