President Joe Biden on Monday formally raised the nation’s cap on refugee admissions to 62,500 this yr, weeks after going through bipartisan blowback for his delay in changing the record-low ceiling of 15,000 set by former President Donald Trump.
Biden final month moved to broaden the eligibility standards for resettlements, eradicating one roadblock to refugees getting into the U.S. put in place by Trump, however he had initially stopped in need of lifting the annual cap, with aides saying they didn’t consider it was needed. However Biden confronted sharp pushback for not at the very least taking the symbolic step of authorizing extra refugees to enter the U.S. this yr and swiftly reversed course.
Biden, in a press release Monday, mentioned the brand new restrict “erases the traditionally low quantity set by the earlier administration,” including that Trump’s cap “didn’t mirror America’s values as a nation that welcomes and helps refugees.”
“It is very important take this motion in the present day to take away any lingering doubt within the minds of refugees world wide who’ve suffered a lot, and who’re anxiously ready for his or her new lives to start,” Biden added.
Biden mentioned it was a “unhappy fact” that the U.S. wouldn’t meet the 62,500 cap by the tip of the fiscal yr in September, given the pandemic and limitations on the nation’s resettlement capabilities — a few of which his administration has attributed to the Trump administration’s insurance policies to limit immigration. That mentioned, they preserve Biden stays dedicated to setting the cap at 125,000 for the 2022 fiscal yr that begins in October, whereas they have been working to enhance U.S. capabilities to course of refugees to have the ability to settle for as a lot of them as potential underneath the brand new cap.
Refugee resettlement businesses applauded the motion after criticizing Biden for months for letting Trump’s cap stay.
“We’re completely thrilled and relieved for thus many refugee households all the world over who look to the U.S. for cover,” mentioned Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, head of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one in every of 9 resettlement businesses within the nation. “It has a felt like a rollercoaster experience, however that is one vital step towards rebuilding this system and returning the U.S. to our world humanitarian management function.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken notified Congress on Feb. 12 of a plan to lift the ceiling on admissions to 62,500, however no presidential dedication adopted.
Then in an emergency declaration on April 16, Biden said the admission of as much as 15,000 refugees set by Trump this yr “stays justified by humanitarian issues and is in any other case within the nationwide curiosity.”
That set off a deluge of criticism from his allies on Capitol Hill. Second-ranking Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois referred to as that preliminary restrict “unacceptable.” New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Overseas Relations Committee, wrote in a letter to Biden that “failing to challenge a brand new Dedication undermines your declared objective to reverse your predecessor’s refugee insurance policies.”
Inside hours the White Home made a rapid course correction. The administration vowed to extend the traditionally low cap by Could 15 — however mentioned it most likely can be not be as excessive because the 62,500.
Ultimately, Biden returned to that determine, although businesses agree it’s unlikely to be reached.
“We’re coping with a refugee resettlement course of that has been eviscerated by the earlier administration and we’re nonetheless in a pandemic,” mentioned Mark Hetfield, president of HIAS, a Maryland-based Jewish nonprofit that resettles refugees. “It’s a problem, but it surely’s vital he sends a message to the world that the U.S. is again and ready to welcome refugees once more.”
The brand new allocation instituted by Biden added extra slots for refugees from Africa, the Center East and Central America and ended Trump’s restrictions on resettlements from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
Watson reported from San Diego.