President Barack Obama designates $70 million to address “urgent refugee & migration needs”

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Syrian refugees

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama has designated up to $70 million from a special fund set up by Congress for the purpose of addressing “unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs.”

A senior administration official told CNN that the money is being used to follow through on the President’s commitment last fall to bring in up to 85,000 refugees from around the world, up from 70,000 last year.

The money is being taken from a fund set up by Congress to deal with emergencies involving refugees.

The presidential determination making the money available did not specify “geographic targets” or which of the world’s refugees are the intended recipients of the aid. However, the administration official said the money is expected to encompass help to pay for up to 10,000 refugees and migrants coming to the U.S. from Iraq and Syria, as well as for people seeking humanitarian relief and fleeing the violence and turmoil of countries in Central America.

Obama’s announcement said that the money is targeted for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program “in light of the unprecedented number of refugees in need of resettlement.”

The House of Representatives has approved legislation calling for a pause in the program allowing refugees into the United States from Iraq and Syria, but the Senate has not yet acted on it.

The senior administration official repeated the often-stated White House position that people traveling to the U.S. from Iraq and Syria are carefully vetted in a program that can take up to two years before allowing them to enter the country. The official also said that by way of comparison, roughly 70 million people travel to the U.S. every year and that the people being allowed to enter the U.S. as refugees is only a tiny fraction of that.


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