Biden keeps historically low Trump era cap on refugees

17 Avril, 2021, 07:34 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Migrants shortly after travelling over the border into the US

The regions are Africa, East Asia, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Near East and South Asia, the official said.

The official said the United States would use all 15,000 slots under the Biden order and that officials were prepared to consult with Congress should there be a need to increase the number of admissions to address unforeseen emergencies.

The White House later said Mr Biden would raise the refugee cap next month.

President Biden, who as a presidential candidate pledged to increase the number of refugees resettled in the United States, is issuing an emergency presidential declaration that keeps the number of refugee admissions for fiscal year 2021 at 15,000, the same level the Trump administration set last fall, the White House confirms.

Almost 85,000 refugees were resettled in the U.S. during the final year of Barack Obama's presidency.

For the past few weeks, he has been consulting with his advisors to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1. A senior administration official said Biden's new allocations, formalised in an emergency presidential determination, could result in speedier admissions of already screened and vetted refugees in a manner of days.

Harris consistently vilified the Trump administration's decision to lower refugee caps as abandoning moral leadership and pledged to be an advocate for refugees.

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The Biden administration's recent budget proposal requested 4.3 billion USA dollars for ORR, while setting a goal of 125,000 refugee admissions in 2022. And the longer Biden takes to act, the harder it will be to enact meaningful change. Biden should be thinking bigger if he wants to seriously prepare for a global refugee crisis that will only worsen as more parts of the world begin to experience the catastrophic effects of climate change - a problem that the president himself acknowledged in his executive order earlier this year.

"That build back is and has been happening and will enable us to support much increased admissions numbers in future years".

Officials had also cited the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons to keep the cap at 15,000, but they added that with vaccination and testing expansions, it would be easier to process new refugee admissions.

The president's decision appears to have been tied to concerns over the optics of admitting more refugees at a time of rising numbers of migrants arriving at the U.S. -Mexico border in recent months, and to not wanting to look "too open" or "soft", another U.S. official with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

An influx of unaccompanied migrant minors at the border has strained the resources of the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, but the asylum system and the refugee system are distinctly separate - though ORR has had to dip into refugee resettlement funding to pay for the care of unaccompanied minors, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Mr Trump's speechwriter and immigration adviser Stephen Miller tweeted that the directive "reflects Team Biden's awareness that the border flood will cause record midterm losses", referring to the congressional elections that happen midway through a president's term, which will next be held in November 2022.

Some 35,000 refugees have been cleared to go to the United States, and 100,000 remain in the pipeline and their lives remain in limbo, said David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee.

"This leadership is sorely needed", he said.

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