U.S. officials said the Obama administration is planning to admit some of the Chinese Muslims being held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into the United States.
News reports quoted unnamed officials as saying up to seven of the 17 ethnic Uighurs at Guantanamo could be resettled in the U.S.
But the reports indicated the decision to release them is not final and faces opposition from within the U.S. government and from the public.
The move is also likely to anger Chinese officials, who consider the Uighurs terrorists and want them handed over.
The Uighurs were cleared for release from Guantanamo as early as 2003, but the U.S. will not send them home to China for fear they will be tortured. The government has been unable to find a third country to accept them.
The Uighurs have been going through the U.S. court system in an attempt to leave Guantanamo, where they are being held without charge.
Last October, a federal judge ruled the men should be transferred to U.S. soil since Washington no longer considers them "enemy combatants." But the administration of then-President George W. Bush argued the judge did not have the authority to free them and an appeals court overturned the decision.
China says the Uighurs belong to the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a separatist organization considered a terrorist group by China, the U.S. and the United Nations. The Chinese government has warned other countries not to accept them.
In 2006, the U.S. released five ethnic Uighurs from Guantanamo, sending them to Albania, which was the only country that would take them.