After outcry, WH says Biden will lift refugee cap in May
Apr 17 2021
After a torrent of criticism, the administration seemingly backtracked somewhat Friday afternoon, saying it would defer a final determination on this year's refugee limit to May 15 and that it would increase.
The move comes after Bidensigned an executive order pledging to dramatically increase the number of refugees admitted in the 2022 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2021, to 125,000. So, the fact that the refugee ceiling is 15,000 means that it's not only the lowest number ever set in the history of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, but it effectively shuts out many deserving refugees from being able to be reunited with their loved ones in the United States.
Efforts to lower the number of refugees in the United States even provoked the California progressive to characterize the Trump administration as complicit in atrocities overseas similar to the holocaust of the early 20th-century. An administration official said the change would allow the Biden administration to fill the cap of 15,000, although it would also leave thousands of additional refugees cleared to fly to the United States stranded in camps.
Another concern has been the record pace of unaccompanied migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, which has drawn in numerous resources that would go to vetting, processing and resettling refugees in the US. But should the cap be reached before the end of the current budget year and the emergency refugee situation persists, then a presidential determination may be issued to raise the ceiling.
"While finalizing that determination, the president was urged to take immediate action to reverse the Trump policy that banned refugees from many key regions, to enable flights from those regions to begin within days". The regions are Africa, East Asia, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Near East and South Asia, the official said.
Biden presented a plan to Congress two months ago to raise the ceiling on admissions to 62,500 and to eliminate restrictions imposed by Trump that have disqualified a significant number of refugees, including those fleeing war.
The State Department, which co-ordinates flights with resettlement agencies, booked 715 refugees to come to the United States with the anticipation that Biden would have acted by March, but those flights were cancelled since the refugees were not eligible under Trump's rules, according to resettlement agencies.
Jenny Yang, senior vice-president at World Relief, a humanitarian organisation, told CNN that White House claims the United States refugee resettlement programme needed to be rebuilt after the Trump years was "a completely false narrative".
Harris consistently vilified the Trump administration's decision to lower refugee caps as abandoning moral leadership and pledged to be an advocate for refugees.
"It is a factor", said Psaki, noting that the Office of Refugee Resettlement "does management and has personnel working on both issues and so we have to ensure that there is capacity and ability to manage both".
Critics from both sides of the political spectrum had accused the president of bowing to political pressure that has been mounting over the record pace of unaccompanied migrants crossing the U.S. -Mexico border.
Refugee resettlement agencies said it was important that admissions go higher even if it's not possible to meet the target to send a message that America will be a leader again in offering safe haven to the world's oppressed.
Refugees who have applied for refugee status in the United States from the other side of the world go through a multi-step process that can take years.
"The global need for resettlement has never been greater", Hetfield said.