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Biden set to raise refugee cap to 62,500 after blowback

A group demonstrates in Austin in support of Texas accepting refugees in this file photo.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/The Texas Tribune
A group demonstrates in Austin in support of Texas accepting refugees in this file photo.

WASHINGTON, DC — The Biden administration will raise the refugee ceiling to 62,500 people this fiscal year, the White House confirmed, after receiving swift criticism last month when President Joe Biden kept the lower Trump-era cap in place.

“I am revising the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year,” Biden said in a lengthy statement 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.”

Biden said he plans to set a goal of 125,000 refugee admissions for the 2022 fiscal year as well.

The administration had announced last month that Biden would sign an emergency determination that keeps this year’s refugee cap at 15,000, but not raise it as he had committed to doing, a significant reversal from his administration’s previous proposal to lift the cap to 62,500. The move faced immediate blowback from refugee groups and Democratic lawmakers frustrated by the sudden shift.

Monday, Biden said taking action on the cap will “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.”

“The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” the President continued. “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 also said 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,” he continued.

As of March 31, only 2,050 refugees had been admitted to the United States this fiscal year under Trump’s 15,000 cap, according to the Refugee Processing Center, which is part of the State Department.

Earlier this month, the White House backtracked after Biden described the influx of migrant children on the country’s southern border as a “crisis,” in what appeared to be a notable shift in language.

“We’re gonna increase the numbers. The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people and we couldn’t do two things at once. And now we’re going to increase the numbers,” Biden said at the time.

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