Saturday, May 21

Biden raises refugee cap to 62,500 after criticism

(CNN)– The Biden administration will raise the refugee limit to 62,500 people this fiscal year, the White House confirmed, after receive immediate criticism last month when President Joe Biden kept the lowest cap in the Trump administration.

“I am updating the annual refugee admission limit from the United States to 62,500 for this fiscal year,” Biden said in a lengthy statement Monday. “This removes the historically low figure set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect the values ​​of the United States as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.”

Biden said he plans to set a target of 125,000 refugee inflows by fiscal 2022 as well, in line with a commitment he made in his first foreign policy speech at the State Department.

This Monday’s announcement places the administration in its initial proposal, presented in February. The administration took a sharp turn last month, when it announced that Biden would sign an emergency resolution that kept this year’s refugee limit at 15,000, but did not increase it as it had promised to do. The move immediately faced backlash from refugee groups and Democratic lawmakers frustrated by the sudden change.

Biden said Monday that the adoption of measures on the cap “will remove any lingering doubts in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much, and who are eagerly awaiting their new lives to begin.”

“The sad truth is that we will not reach 62,500 admissions this year,” the president continued. “We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.

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Biden also said that his goal of 125,000 refugee admissions in the first fiscal year of his presidency “will remain elusive.”

We may not make it the first year. But we are going to use all the tools available to help these fully verified refugees fleeing horrible conditions in their home countries, ”he continued. Refugee caps are often seen as a target to be achieved.

As of March 31, only 2,050 refugees had been admitted to the United States this fiscal year under Trump’s 15,000 cap, according to the Refugee Processing Center, which is part of the State Department.

The admissions limit is broken down into regional allocations, which include 22,000 spaces for Africa, 6,000 for East Asia, 4,000 for Europe and Central Asia, 5,000 for Latin America and the Caribbean, 13,000 for Southeast Asia and a reserve of 12,500.

Last month, the White House he retract after Biden described the influx of migrant minors at the country’s southern border as a “crisis,” in what seemed like a notable change in language.

«We are going to increase the numbers. The problem was that the part of the refugees had to do with the crisis that ended at the border with minors and we could not do two things at the same time. And now we’re going to increase the numbers, ”Biden said at the time.

CNN previously reported that Biden resisted signing the Trump-era refugee cap increase due to political optics.

The president’s indecision came at a time when the administration was facing criticism from Republicans and Democrats for its handling of the influx of migrants on the US-Mexico border. But the situation on the southern border of the United States is independent of the refugee program, which dates back decades and has a comprehensive vetting process for refugees abroad to settle in the United States.

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CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday if politics had influenced the administration’s hesitancy on the issue.

«Why was there so much movement over this limit of refugees? Was indecision a political issue? ” Tapper said.

“The President has been committed to the refugee program and to rebuilding it and regaining our status as a world leader in refugee matters from day one, and that has been unwavering. We are very proud of today’s announcement, which reflects that unwavering commitment, “Mayorkas replied.

Refugee advocates applauded Monday’s announcement.

“President Biden has reaffirmed what so many Americans have long known: Refugees are welcome here and are a blessing to our communities. The new admissions cap reflects our core values ​​as a welcoming nation, and ultimately aligns public policy with the unprecedented global need of millions of people who are forced from their homes by violence, war and persecution, “said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, in a statement.

David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, agreed with this statement: “When the United States welcomes refugees, that is the best thing about America, building on its distinguished tradition and deep-rooted values ​​of providing refuge for those who flee. of violence and political persecution ”.

– CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.

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