The Biden administration on Monday announced that it will raise the refugee cap to 62,500 this fiscal year, following backlash the President faced last month for keeping the historically low Trump-era refugee cap of 15,000 intact.© Provided by Talking Points Memo WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Biden spoke to a nation seeking to emerge from twin crises of pandemic and economic slide in his first speech to a joint session of Congress. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
“I am revising the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year,” the President said in a statement issued Monday. “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.”
Additionally, the President said that he intends to set the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions for the 2022 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 said.
The President also acknowledged “the sad truth” that his goal of 62,500 refugee admissions will likely not be met this year.
“We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”
Biden added that his goal of 125,000 refugee admissions within the first fiscal year of his presidency “will still be hard to hit.”
“We might not make it the first year. But we are going to use every tool available to help these fully-vetted refugees fleeing horrific conditions in their home countries,” the President said.
Biden’s announcement follows swift and stern criticism from refugee advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers for initially signing an order last month that would keep in place a Trump-era limit on U.S. refugee admissions for the fiscal year — a significant reversal from his administration’s previous proposal to lift the cap to 62,500.
Biden administration officials defended the President amid criticism by denying that the President had broken his initial promise of raising the refugee cap to 62,500, but rather that the current administration inherited the “broken system” that was implemented in the Trump era and that 15,000 was only an initial target.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement amid the furor saying that the administration would set a “final, increased refugee cap” by next month, but warned that the new limit was not likely to reach the levels Biden had initially put forward.
“Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” Psaki said last month.
After days of backlash for signing the order that keeps the Trump-era refugee cap in place, Biden initially in April told reporters that he will move to increase it, but, at that time, did not indicate an amount.
“We’re going to increase the number,” Biden told pool reporters last month. “The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people. We couldn’t do two things at once. But now we are going to increase the number.”