Biden keeps Trump's record-low cap on refugees

Share

"Failing to issue a new determination undermines your declared goal to reverse your predecessor's refugee policies and to rebuild the Refugee Admissions Program to a target of 125,000 people in FY22, and threatens USA leadership on forced migration".

The administration will issue the directive later Friday.

But the subscription was suspended and White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in the afternoon that Biden would set a new final limit by May 15.

She said "given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited", it's now "unlikely" Biden will be able to boost that number to 62,500 as he had proposed in his plan to Congress two months ago. AP's earlier story follows below.

Refugee resettlement agencies applauded the move to speed admissions and provide more slots but were disheartened that Biden is for now keeping the cap set by Trump. Despite the cap on refugees remaining at the Trump-era low, a crisis at the southern border from Central and South American migrants who took their cues from Biden's rhetoric and early actions has escalated to compromising border security and overwhelming detention centers. The administration has indicated he may still do so.

Advocates had been pushing for the administration to change the allocation put in place by Trump, which created new categories for refugees subject to religious persecution. Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong.

The Biden administration had recently stated it wanted to allow in some 60,000 refugees annually, ramping up to double the following year.

And once you meet that definition, you're referred to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

The State Department said in February it was planning to raise the ceiling of refugee admissions to 62,500 in the fiscal year ending September 30. The law does not require congressional approval and past presidents have issued such presidential determinations that set the cap on refugee admissions shortly after the notification to Congress.

Biden keeps historically low Trump era cap on refugees
Those remarks were reiterated by Jen Psaki, the White House spokeswoman, who said on Twitter : "This is just the beginning". Since the fiscal year began last October 1, just over 2,000 refugees have been resettled in the U.S.

Stephen Miller, an immigration hardliner and White House adviser under Trump, said on Twitter that Biden's decision reflects concern that border issues could lead to losses for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections.

That statement came just hours after Menendez reminded Biden that there are "29.6 million refugees worldwide".

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most high-profile progressives in Congress, similarly invoked the idea of a broken promise, saying in a tweet criticizing the move, "Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise".

Next year, the Biden administration plans to receive 125,000 asylum seekers. The senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, forecast "much increased admissions numbers in future years".

Most of the refugees are from Africa and fleeing armed conflict or political persecution. Trump limited most spots for people fleeing religious persecution, Iraqis who have assisted USA forces there, and people from Central America's Northern Triangle.

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler called out the Biden administration Friday for attempting to "spin" its stunning reversal on the refugee cap as mere media "confusion".

The new directive will allocates refugee admission by region to "address these emergency situations around the globe", according to the official.

Reports say Mr Biden is concerned about letting in more people amid a record influx at the US-Mexico border.

"It is a factor", said Psaki, noting that the Office of Refugee Resettlement "has personnel working on both issues and so we have to ensure that there is capacity and ability to manage both".

Share