The White House said Wednesday it had eased some immigration rules to let more of the millions of Syrians forced from their homes during the country’s 3-year-old crisis come to the U.S.
Only 31 Syrian refugees – out of an estimated 2.3 million – were admitted in the fiscal year that ended in October, prompting demands for change from rights advocates and many lawmakers.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been taken in by countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
The rules changes granted exemptions on a case-by-case basis to the "material support" bar in U.S immigration law, according to an announcement in the Federal Register signed by Secretary of State "John Kerry" and Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security.
That bar had prevented anyone who had provided any support to armed militant groups from coming to the U.S, even if the groups themselves receive aid from Washington.
"These exemptions will help address the plight of Syrian refugees who are caught up in the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation", Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, chairman of the U.S Senate subcommittee on human rights, said in a statement.