1 of 3 | A mother and baby wait with refugees and migrants in the Tovarnik train station to board a train that will transport them to Austria on September 18, 2015 in Tovarnik, Croatia. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Sunday that the United States will accept more refugees in 2016 and 2017 amid a migrant crisis that has troubled Europe as asylum-seekers flee their native countries, particularly Syria. Photo by Achilleas Savallis/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday announced plans for the United States to increase the amount of refugees accepted as Europe continues to face a migrant crisis driven by poverty and war.
For 2016, the United States will accept at least 85,000 refugees, up from 70,000 in 2014, with about 10,000 of them being from Syria specifically. By 2017, at least 100,000 will be accepted.
"If it's possible to do more, we'll do," Kerry said at a joint press conference alongside German counterpart Foreign Minister Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin. "One of the reasons it's difficult is that post-Sept. 11, we have new laws and new requirements with respect to security background checks and vetting, so it takes longer than one would like and we cannot cut corners with respect to those security requirements."
Europe has been struggling to accommodate a massive influx of migrants who are seeking asylum. Syrians make up the group of most migrants fleeing toward Europe, followed by Afghans, Nigerians, and Somalians.
More than 156,000 migrants crossed into the European Union in August, meaning more than 500,000 migrants have entered since the start of the year, according to EU border agency Frontex.
"This step that I am announcing today I believe is in keeping with the best tradition of America as a land of second chances and a beacon of hope, and it will be accompanied by additional financial contributions to the humanitarian effort not only from our government but from the American people. And that will become more specific in the next days," Kerry said.
The United States is also "determined to attack the root causes" of the migrant crisis, Kerry said, adding that there is no military solution to end the Syrian civil war or to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.
"It would be delusional to believe that President [Bashar al-Assad] can ever unite or govern a peaceful Syria, and it would be just as impossible for Daesh or any other violent extremist group," Kerry said. "It would be impossible for any of us to conceive of any way in which they should be allowed or possibly come close to governing."