Biden raises refugee cap to 62,500 after Democrat criticism

US President Joe Biden speaks out on the US Jobs Plan following a visit to Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Va. On May 3, 2021.

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President Joe Biden will raise the annual cap on American refugees to 62,500 entrants for the fiscal year, revising the much lower number set under the Trump administration that “did not reflect American values,” he said on Monday.

“It is important to take this step today to remove any lingering doubts in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much and who are eagerly awaiting the start of their new life,” the president said in a statement.

Biden also said he plans to set a cap of 125,000 refugee admissions for the next fiscal year.

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The Biden administration has faced immense pressure from Democrats and activists to quickly raise the refugee ceiling from the historically low limit of 15,000 set under former President Donald Trump.

After Biden announced in mid-April that he would keep the Trump-era ceiling in place, lawmakers in his own party publicly tore the Democratic president apart.

President Biden has broken his promise to restore our humanity,” said at the time Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Shortly after the reaction, the White House said there was “confusion” in its message and promised to settle the refugee ceiling by May 15.

Republicans, meanwhile, criticized Biden’s handling of a wave of migrant arrivals along the US-Mexico border. GOP lawmakers have urged the administration to reinstate some of Trump’s strict immigration policies that Biden rescinded when he took office. The media also spoke out against the administration for restricting press access to border facilities that were said to have been overwhelmed at the height of the outbreak.

Biden’s statement Monday afternoon said the US refugee program “embodies America’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable and to be a beacon of freedom and refuge for the world.”

“It is a statement about who we are and who we want to be. So we will rebuild what was broken and do everything possible to complete the rigorous process of selecting refugees already awaiting admission,” said the President.

But “the sad truth,” he noted, “is that we won’t get 62,500 admissions this year.”

“We are working quickly to repair the damage of the past four years. It will take time, but this work is already underway. We have reopened the program to new refugees. And by changing regional allocations last month, we have already increased the number of refugees ready to leave for the United States, ”he said.

Biden also acknowledged that his goal for next year of 125,000 refugee admissions “will always be elusive.”

“We may not be successful in the first year. But we will use all the tools available to help these fully vetted refugees who are fleeing the horrific conditions in their country of origin,” he said. “It will reaffirm American leadership and American values ​​in refugee admissions.”

This is the latest news. Please come back for updates.

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