The White House's new zig-zag on a key campaign pledge to raise the refugee cap to 125,000 was made on Monday. It arrives as the President continues to deal with an influx of refugees arriving at the United States' southern border.
Biden quadruples refugee cap but could not meet the target this year
While the refugee resettlement policy is unrelated to border problems, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in April that the increase influenced President Joe Biden's initial decision to restrict refugees to 15,000 in immigration. The Biden administration announced Monday that 62,500 refugees would be allowed to resettle in the United States this year, reversing a White House decision to hold a relatively low Trump-era cap on those escaping war, violence, and persecution.
President Joe Biden announced weeks after an earlier attempt to restrict refugees to 15,000, a number set by former President Donald Trump. In a statement, the President said, "Today, I am revising the United States' annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year. This eliminates the previous administration's historically low number of 15,000 refugees, which did not represent America's values as a country that embraces and accepts refugees."
Advocates praised Biden's decision but said he needed to act swiftly to assist refugees who have been stuck in limbo, as per USA Today. "We are grateful that the Biden administration has maintained its commitment to lift the refugee resettlement quota for this year to 62,500 despite a lengthy and needless wait," said Noah Gottschalk, Oxfam America's global policy lead.
Despite agreeing to more refugees, Biden stated that the United States could not achieve the higher target. "The unfortunate reality is that 62,500 admissions will not be achieved this year. We're working hard to repair the damage that's been done over the past four years. It will take some time, but work on it has already begun," Biden said.
Biden previously faced delay backlash
The new admissions cap, according to Biden, would strengthen efforts to increase refugee admissions, and he repeated his aim of accepting 125,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year.
In February, the Biden administration suggested expanding the refugee quota to 62,500 people. However, the President seemed to change his mind in April, signing an emergency decree to maintain the Trump-era cap of 15,000 people, Fox News reported.
Prominent Democrats used the pause. Senator Dick Durbin said the original cap set by the Biden administration was "unacceptable" and that there was "no excuse" to reduce the figure to 15,000 people. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the decision flat out wrong.
In April, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that the Biden administration inherited a decimated refugee admissions policy. Biden will declare a final, raised refugee quota by mid-May, she added.
More entry slots for refugees from particular areas were added to the updated quota. The US will welcome a maximum of 22,000 refugees from Africa, 13,000 from the Near East and South Asia, 4,000 from Europe and Central Asia, and 6,000 from East Asia, 5,000 from Latin America, under the revised guidelines for this fiscal year.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the US is developing its processing capacity to accommodate as many refugees as possible under the current limit. Per AP News, just over 2,000 refugees have been resettled in the United States since the fiscal year began on October 1.
More than 2,000 refugees deemed ineligible by Trump's presidential decision on October 27, 2020, are preparing to travel. Refugee resettlement organizations praised Biden's intervention. Biden has increased the number of slots available for refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and Central America and lifted Trump's ban on refugees from Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.