White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday afternoon: “Given the program we have inherited to host decimated refugees and the burden on the Refugee Resettlement Office, its initial target of 62,500 seems unlikely.” Instead, Biden is expected to set a final, increased refugee ceiling for the remainder of the fiscal year by May 15.
Immigrant lawyers and refugee resettlement agencies expressed disappointment with the Biden administration’s announcement earlier Friday – arguing that despite Trump’s work to dismantle the U.S. refugee admission program, there is still room to host more refugees is present. Around 35,000 refugees are currently admitted to the United States and ready to settle there.
“”[I]It is deeply disappointing that the government has chosen to maintain its predecessor’s shameful, record-low licensing limit, “said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a faith-based nonprofit that works directly with the people US resettled refugees “Although the Trump administration has left the resettlement infrastructure in ruins, we feel confident and in a position to provide for far more families than this mandate implies.”
However, in the signed decision, Biden removed the Trump-era restrictions that refugees below the cap qualify for and accelerated admission. It changes the regional distribution to allow more refugees from regions like Africa that have been largely banned by the Trump administration. The revised allocations for this fiscal year include 7,000 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 Middle East and South Asia, and an additional 1,000 unallocated.
Vignarajah said some of the determination is welcome as it revises policies that “disproportionately and discriminate against refugees from African and Muslim majority countries”.
Still, Biden was heavily criticized by lawmakers, attorneys, refugee families and other supporters for failing to keep his promise – and later creating confusion about what happened to the cap. In Biden’s signed memo, which maintains the 15,000 refugee limit, he said it “remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest”. He added that if that number were reached before the end of the fiscal year, he would potentially increase approvals “accordingly”.
“This is incredibly disappointing. The United States is the most powerful nation in the world and we can’t do better?” Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum advocacy group, said on the early news. “The resettlement of refugees has nothing to do with what happens at the border. There is a national network of organizations, churches and government offices that have decades of experience in the relocation of refugees.”
Psaki admitted in the press conference on Friday that the increasing number of migrants arriving at the US southern border had an impact on the president’s decision not to keep his promise to raise the ceiling.
For his part, Biden has repeatedly touted the importance of the United States. moral guidance on refugee issues and how the US has historically “urged other nations to open their doors wide too”. But a Report of the International Rescue Committee of the Humanitarian Aid Group This week, it turned out that Biden is on track to accept fewer refugees than any president in US history.
According to the analysis, only 2,050 refugees were admitted to the United States in the middle of fiscal year 2021 first reported by the Washington Post.