Though just months ago President Barack Obama excoriated and mocked Republicans who oppose offering Syrian refugees resettlement in the U.S., Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday characterized the flood of refugees entering Europe as a “threat” of “near existential” proportions to the continent.
“The United States of America understands the near existential nature of this threat to the politics and fabric of life in Europe,” Kerry told the Munich Security Conference Saturday, according to the the State Department’s transcript of his remarks.
The top U.S. diplomat said that half of those trying to get into Europe aren’t even Syrian and that there’s “a whole industry” designed to move them over borders, echoing arguments made by those who want a more stringent vetting process before allowing migrants claiming to be Syrian refugees into the U.S.
“As we know, 50 percent of the people now knocking on the door of Europe — with a whole industry that’s been created to try to help move them and some very perverse politics in certain places that turns the dial up and down for political purposes — half of them now come from places other than Syria. Think about that — Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan,” Kerry said.
The secretary of state said that the “staggering humanitarian crisis” is posing “unprecedented challenges” and affecting “the social fabric of Europe.”
He also made a point of acknowledging German Chancellor Angela Merkel for demonstrating “remarkable courage.” Germany took in more than 1.1 million migrants in 2015 alone.
Kerry said that the Obama administration considers the European migrant crisis to be an American problem as well.