President Joe Biden announced he is quadrupling former President Donald Trump’s cap on refugees allowed into the U.S. from 15,000 to 62,500 this year, reversing an apparent decision made last month to keep the limit in place.
“Today, I am revising the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year. 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,” the president’s statement read. “The new admissions cap will also reinforce efforts that are already underway to expand the United States’ capacity to admit refugees, so that we can reach the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions that I intend to set for the coming fiscal year.”
“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 continued.
The move comes after Biden said he would keep former President Trump’s 15,000 refugee cap last month, stating in an emergency determination on April 16 that the limit “remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest.”
The apparent decision sparked backlash from Democrat leaders, including Illinois Senator Dick Durbin who called the initial limit “unacceptable.” President Biden responded to the criticism by reversing course, citing “additional briefing and a more comprehensive presentation” on refugee admissions.”
“Upon additional briefing and a more comprehensive presentation regarding the capacity of the executive departments and agencies charged with administering USRAP to increase refugee admissions while responding to other demands, and given the ongoing unforeseen emergency refugee situation, I now determine, consistent with my Administration’s prior consultation with the Congress, that raising the number of admissions permissible for FY 2021 to 62,500 is justified by grave humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest.
According to the president, the United States will not likely reach 62,500 refugee admissions in 2021 due to “the damage of the last four years,” despite the increase.
“It will take some time, but that work is already underway. We have reopened the program to new refugees,” Biden said in his statement. “And by changing the regional allocations last month, we have already increased the number of refugees ready for departure to the United States.”
Biden added additional spots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Central America. He also ended Trump-era restrictions on Somalian, Syrian and Yemeni refugees.
According to The Associated Press, at least 35,000 refugees have been approved to enter the United States, and around 100,000 more are awaiting clearance.