“I am in the process of revising the annual ceiling for refugee admissions to the United States 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 target of 125,000 refugee admissions for fiscal year 2022 as well, in line with the pledge he made in his first foreign policy speech at the State Department.
On Monday, Biden said taking action on the ceiling “will 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 lives.”
“The sad truth is that we will not get 62,500 admissions this year,” the president continued. “We are working quickly to repair the damage of the past four years. It will take time, but this work is already underway.”
Biden also said his target of 125,000 refugee admissions in the first year of his presidency “will always be elusive.”
“We may not get there in the first year. But we will use all the tools available to help these duly checked refugees who are fleeing the horrific conditions in their country of origin,” he continued. Ceilings for refugees are often seen as a goal to be achieved.
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.
“We will increase the number. The problem was that the refugee side was working on the crisis that ended at the border with the young people and we couldn’t do two things at the same time. And now we’re going to increase the numbers, ”Biden said at the time.
CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday whether politics played a role in the administration’s hesitation on the issue.
“Why has there been so much back and forth about this refugee cap? Was the hesitation just a matter of politics? Tapper said.
“The President has been committed to supporting and rebuilding the refugee agenda and regaining our status as a world leader in the refugee field from day one, and that has not changed.” We are very proud of today’s announcement, and it reflects this lasting commitment, ”replied Mayorkas.
Refugee advocates applauded Monday’s announcement.
“President Biden reaffirmed what so many Americans have long known: Refugees are welcome here and are a blessing to our communities. The new admission cap reflects our core values as a welcoming nation and finally aligns public policy with the unprecedented global need that millions of people have been driven from their homes by violence, war and persecution, ”said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said in a statement.
David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, echoed this, saying, “When America takes in refugees, it’s America’s best, building on its tradition. distinguished and its long-standing values of providing refuge to those fleeing violence and political persecution. “
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.