Newsman: President Joe Biden made the announcement that the United States would allow 62,500 refugees to resettle in US this year. The announcement came weeks after he sparked a political uproar from human rights groups and Democrats in Congress over an earlier plan to limit refugees to 15,000 – a figure set by former President Donald Trump.
White House reversed the course after what initially said it would keep a historically low Trump-era limit on those fleeing war, violence and persecution.
Monday’s statement represented the latest winds from the White House on a key campaign promise to lift the refugee cap to 125,000.
President Joe Biden said, “Today, I am revising the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year,” Biden said in a statement. “This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.”
“This announcement means the United States can finally begin to rebuild the lifesaving refugee resettlement program and welcome the tens of thousands of people who have been left stranded by four years of the Trump administration’s xenophobic policies and three months of the Biden administration’s inaction,” he said.
The White House has blamed the Trump administration for dismantling the system to process refugees, draining it of staff and funding.
“The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” Biden said.
“We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”
Biden said the new admissions cap will “reinforce efforts” to further expand refugee admissions, and he reiterated his goal of admitting 125,000 refugees in the next fiscal year. But an administration official told news media the 125,000 goal would also be difficult to hit.
It comes as the administration struggles to manage an influx of migrants at the U.S. southern border. Although the refugee resettlement program is separate from border issues, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in April that the spike in immigration was a factor in Biden’s initial move to limit refugees to 15,000.
In February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Congress the administration planned to allow 62,500 refugees to resettle and said the move was “justified by grave humanitarian concerns.”