White House Announces Details Of Plans For Accepting Refugees

| by Nicholas Roberts
Syrian Refugees.Syrian Refugees.

The White House released plans to increase the number of refugees that the United States will accept for the next two years. 

The U.S. will take in 85,000 people in 2016 followed by 100,000 in 2017, both up from 70,000 in 2015, The Associated Press reports. Many of the new refugees arriving will be from Syria, although they do not account for the entirety of the increase.

The federal government heads nine resettlement agencies. When arriving in the U.S., refugees are eligible for an arrival and placement grant of $1,975 which must be managed by one of the nine agencies. Of that money, $1,125 must be spent on housing and basic furnishings of life, like dishes and clothing, according to AP.

Low-income refugee families can qualify for Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for seven and five years, respectively. To work, refugees must file with the Social Security Administration to get a work permit, although services like job placement are available.

Officially, the federal government controls all resettlement programs in the U.S., but that has not stopped mpre than half of the nation's governors from saying they will refuse to accept refugees into their states.

Reuters reports that Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has authored a bill that would require the heads of three national security agencies to personally certify that each refugee arriving in the U.S. from Syria is not a threat.

McCaul said the president is unlikely to halt the resettlement program despite the strong and potent opposition of more than 30 governors. His proposed legislation would lengthen the screening process for individual refugees, which can already take between 18 and 24 months.

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota argued that McCaul's bill would ultimately be sending the wrong message to Islamic State group, also known as ISIS and "Daesh."

"I think to put our program on pause might signal to Daesh that they're having an effect on what we do," he said in a CNN interview. "Do you really want Daesh to dictate terms to the United States?

Sources: AP via Fox Carolina, Reuters / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons