After outcry, White House says Biden will lift refugee cap in May


US President Joe Biden has signed an emergency determination that officials said would speed refugee admissions to the US, but he did not immediately lift his predecessor's historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for this year.

The move comes after Biden signed an executive order pledging to dramatically increase the number of refugees admitted in the 2022 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2021, to 125,000.

Despite his campaign promise, the State Department's recommendation, and a plea from fellow Democrats, Biden will continue with Trump's refugee cap number of 15,000. Dick Durbin, and Sen. "Facing the greatest refugee crisis in our time, there is no reason to limit the number to 15,000. Say it ain't so, President Joe".

Biden has pledged to raise the refugee cap for the next fiscal year to 125,000 and signalled he would try to make a "down payment" on that this year, but acknowledged it wouldn't be easy.

Prominent Democrats were enraged by the Biden administration's decision to continue Trump's refugee cap.

Biden, who took office in January, had signaled two months ago plans to raise the cap to 62,500 during the 2021 fiscal year ending on September 30, but held off on actually doing so.

Maintaining the Trump-era admissions level of 15,000 leaves thousands of refugees stranded in camps in places like Kenya, Tanzania and Jordan.

The Biden administration will keep the target of refugee admissions for this year at the historically low level set by the Trump administration, walking back an earlier pledge to welcome more than 60,000 refugees into the United States. Trump limited most spots for people fleeing religious persecution, Iraqis who have assisted USA forces there, and people from Central America's Northern Triangle. But the classification also disqualified most other Muslim and African refugees.

About 7,000 slots are reserved for refugees from Africa, 1,000 from East Asia, 1,500 from Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 1,500 from the Near East and South Asia.

"Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely", Psaki said in a statement.

There are over 100,000 refugees awaiting resettlement to the United States - including 35,000 refugees already approved to resettle in the United States, many who will be cut off from resettlement in FY21.

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In February, Biden committed to increasing the US's refugee cap to 62,500, multiplying by more than four times the Trump administration's cap of 15,000 refugees.

Her cousin Alex Majaliwa, who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has no idea when Ecasa will be allowed into the United States.

"It's not grounded in any sort of reality", she said. And he was resettled several years ago, but his brother has been waiting for his wife to be reunited with him.

The Biden White House is now trying to do some cleanup, with a statement Friday afternoon by press secretary Jen Psaki saying, "The president's directive today has been the subject of some confusion". Asked at a news briefing if the delay in the designation had anything to do with resources going toward the border, she said, "It's not related to that. No".

Another concern has been the record pace of unaccompanied migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, which has drawn in numerous resources that would go to vetting, processing and resettling refugees in the US.

"These are two completely distinct pathways and programs", said Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. "America has always been able to walk and chew gum". For minors who cross the border unaccompanied, the government separately funds temporary housing in shelters for minors who cross the border, where they must remain until their guardians have been screened. The office's 2020 budget was 1.3 billion dollars.

Members of Congress and immigration advocates criticised Biden's decisions Friday.

"President Biden has broken his promise to restore our humanity", said Rep Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.

However, Biden is on track to accept the fewest number of refugees this year of any modern president, including Trump, according to a report from the International Rescue Committee.

"This is really frustrating and heartbreaking", Igihozo said.

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