Resettling Syrian refugees could take years

Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement this past weekend, that the U.S. would boost the number of refugees it accepts each year, was welcome news to many groups which are trying to help suffering Syrian families.

"We're doing what we know we can manage, immediately," said Kerry.

The U.S. says it'll allow 85,000 refugee visas next year and 100,000 in 2017, up from the current 70,000.

But local resettlement groups say just increasing a number won't fix a complicated problem.

"The norm has been we don't actually resettle as many as we say we will," said Nina Boe, who is among a group of local volunteers who are trying to find ways to get Syrian families to safety in the U.S.

They're meeting regularly to share ideas and write letters urging lawmakers to speed up the extensive security screening process, which can delay families for years.

"Understandably, yes there are legalities you have to go through, but we've been resettling people for decades," said Boe.

Another challenge is that many families will need assistance from state and local governments, which aren't always prepared to handle an influx of refugees.

Only about 1,500 Syrians have made their way to the US since the conflict started four years ago. 18 Syrians have been resettled in Washington State over the past 12 months, according to figures cited by local resettlement agencies.


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