In response to the current crisis in the Middle East and Europe, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States will significantly increase the number of refugees it will accept over the next two years. Currently, the U.S. accept 70,000 refugees from all over the world per year. In fiscal year 2016, that number will increase to 85,000. And in 2017, the total will be 100,000, Kerry said on Sunday, according to The New York Times. That number, of course, will include a lot more refugees from Syria than the U.S. has taken in this year: just 1,500 since that country's internal conflict began four years ago. The new refugees will come from an existing list from the United Nations and be screened by Homeland Security before being settled all across the country, the Associated Press reports. The Obama administration had previously said it would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, which will be possible within this new cap. "This step is in keeping with America’s best tradition as a land of second chances and a beacon of hope," Kerry said, adding that the U.S. would also continue to supply financial aid to the humanitarian effort to solve this crisis. He made this announcement after meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is working to ease the influx of refugees in his own country. Kerry's numbers are far below the 100,000 Syrians a group of 20 former U.S. officials urged the administration to accept in an open letter sent on Thursday. "With some four million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries and hundreds of thousands of Syrian asylum seekers in Europe, this would be a responsible exercise in burden sharing," the letter said. "We urge you to take extraordinary measures, as were taken for refugees from Vietnam, northern Iraq, and Kosovo." Learn more about how you can help refugees.