Following Democratic Backlash, Biden Raises Refugee Limit to 62,500.


President Joe Biden is officially increasing the country’s refugee quota to 62,500 this year, weeks after facing bipartisan backlash for delaying lifting former President Donald Trump’s limit of 15,000 refugees.

Last month, Biden sought to broaden the citizenship requirements for resettlement, eliminating one of Trump’s barriers to refugee entry into the United States, but he initially fell short of raising the annual limit, with aides arguing it was unnecessary.
However, Biden attracted harsh criticism for not at least taking the symbolic gesture of allowing more immigrants to join the United States this year, and he quickly changed direction.

Biden, in a statement, said the new limit “erases the historically low number set by the previous administration,” adding that Trump’s cap “did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.”

“It is important to take this action today to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much, and who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin,” Biden added.

Biden said it was a “sad truth” that the U.S. would not meet the 62,500 cap by the end of the fiscal year in September, given the pandemic and limitations on the country’s resettlement capabilities — some of which his administration has attributed to the Trump administration’s policies to restrict immigration. That said, they maintain Biden remains committed to setting the cap at 125,000 for the 2022 fiscal year that starts in October, while they were working to improve U.S. capabilities to process refugees to be able to accept as many of them as possible under the new cap.

On February 12, Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Congress of a proposal to lift the admissions cap to 62,500, but no presidential announcement was made.
In an emergency declaration issued on April 16, Biden reported that Trump’s goal of admitting up to 15,000 refugees this year “remains justified by humanitarian considerations and is otherwise in the national interest.”

“Failure to issue a new Determination contradicts your stated intention to overturn your predecessor’s refugee policies,” wrote New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a letter to Biden.

The new allocation instituted by Biden added more slots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Central America and ended Trump’s restrictions on resettlements from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.


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