President increases 2017 refugee resettlement to 110,000

U.S. accepted 70,000 refugees in 2015, 85,000 in 2016

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Refugees could resettle in western Massachusetts next year.

The President is the one who sets the number of refugees that will resettle in the United States each year.

70,000 in 2015, 85,000 in 2016 and next year…110,000. That’s how many refugees President Obama will allow into the country.

This news comes just a couple of weeks after Northampton announced that they’ll be the new home community for 51 refugees from Syria, Burundi and the Congo.

A refugee is different from an immigrant. Immigrants choose to resettle. Refugees are forced to resettle, often to escape war or persecution.

“There has to be a spot for them,” said Ethan Wheeler of Ludlow. “Where it be for housing, an apartment rental or wherever they choose to live, we have to have the capacity for them and the school system has to be able to support them.”

Refugee status is granted by the government only after extensive background checks. Still, some people question the process.

“If the INS does it’s work they should screen every single person and check their background. We are dealing with a large number. Are they going to have the manpower to do the task?” asked Easthampton resident Stephanie Sousbies.

Others say they’d rather have the government focus on helping Americans first.

“Homeless people. Veterans not getting their benefits. Unemployment,” said Holyoke resident and U.S. Army Veteran Michael Lapan. “Do we have enough jobs for these people. Do we have enough resources?”

Of the 110,000 that are coming, 35,000 are from Africa and 40,000 are from the Near East and South Asia, which includes countries like Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

A community can’t legally stop refugees from resettling, although they can refuse to cooperate with the federal effort.