Saturday, 19 June, 2021


Biden keeps US refugee cap at 15,000 rather than raise it

Earlier on Friday April 16 the Biden administration had said it would keep the number of refugees allowed into the United States this Biden Breaks Promise To Increase Refugee Admissions, Keeps Quotas Kamala Harris Condemned Under Trump
Patty Aguilar | 18 April, 2021, 00:24

"With that done, we expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15".

Early on Friday, the USA administration sent an email saying it would only accept 15,000 refugees in the fiscal year, which ends on 1 October.

Biden has pledged to raise the refugee cap for the next fiscal year to 125,000 and signalled he would try to make a "down payment" on that this year, but acknowledged it wouldn't be easy.

Some 35,000 refugees who have already been vetted and cleared for travel to the US will wait overseas, with over 100,000 more in the pipeline unsure how long they will have to wait as well, according to the International Rescue Committee, a resettlement agency.

On the same day, President Joe Biden's White House said it would maintain the Trump-era cap of 15,000 on refugee admissions only to reverse course and commit to raising that number after backlash from Democrats.

"It is deeply disappointing that the administration has elected to leave in place the shameful, record-low admission cap of its predecessor", the group's president and CEO, Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, said in a statement. Hours later, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the president is committed to increasing the cap without specifying a number.

Since the fiscal year began on October 1, just over 2,000 refugees have been resettled in the US. "To be clear: the asylum process at the southern border and the refugee process are completely separate immigration systems".

But resettlement agencies have told ABC News that they could meet Biden's proposed 62,500 cap with help from the administration - something the administration doesn't seem intent on providing.

Psaki went on to say that the administration's initial goal of settling 62,500 refugees this year, announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in February, was too ambitious given the policies the administration inherited from its predecessors.

A senior administration official said Biden's new allocations could result in speedier admissions of already screened and vetted refugees in a manner of days.

While those who step on US soil are legally entitled to apply for asylum and can eventually appear before an immigration judge in the United States, refugees apply for protection overseas and are forced to clear multiple levels of vetting that can often take years.

Left-wing NY congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: "Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong".

Refugee resettlement agencies applauded the move to speed admissions and provide more slots but were disheartened that Biden is for now keeping the cap set by Trump.

Rep. Ilhan Omar: "As a refugee, I know finding a home is a matter of life or death for children around the world".

If anything, keeping a historically low refugee admissions cap in place could exacerbate the situation at the border, according to Dr. Austin Kocher, a research professor at Syracuse University, who said the decision could "prompt still more refugees to attempt to come through the asylum system, placing an even heavier burden on the USA immigration court system".

Democrats wrote a letter to Biden earlier this month demanding that he act and raise the refugee cap.

Another concern has been the record pace of unaccompanied migrants crossing the U.S. -Mexico border, which has drawn in numerous resources that would go to vetting, processing and resettling refugees in the U.S.

In March, at least 172,000 migrants were stopped at the US-Mexico border - the most in 20 years - and many were unaccompanied children.

Mr Biden drew ire on Friday as he held the cap at the historically low figure of 15,000, two months after he pledged to increase it to 65,500.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Trump had blocked many Muslim and African refugees by prioritizing smaller groups of refugees, like Iraqi Christians.

While running for president, Biden promised to reverse much of the immigration policies of the Trump administration.

The order allocated 7,000 slots for refugees from Africa, 3,000 from Latin America, 1,500 from Europe and Central Asia, 1,500 from the Near East and South Asia, and 1,000 from East Asia.

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