Biden keeps USA refugee cap at 15,000 rather than raise it

Biden keeps USA refugee cap at 15,000 rather than raise it

Prominent progressive lawmakers expressed outrage on Friday in response to the news that President Joe Biden will sign an emergency determination that keeps the Trump-era refugee cap of 15,000 - a significant reversal from his administration's proposal earlier this year to lift the cap to 62,500.

The move comes after Biden signed an executive order pledging to dramatically increase the number of refugees admitted in the 2022 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2021, to 125,000.

The executive order signed earlier in the day kept the current cap, set last fiscal year, under former President Donald Trump, in place, but expanded the regions that the USA will accept refugees from to include parts of Africa and the Middle East, reinstating countries banned under the Trump administration. "Kudos to the AP for not falling for the spin", the head Post fact-checker tweeted.

Facing mounting criticism from Democratic allies, the White House said President Joe Biden plans to lift his predecessor's historically low cap on refugees by next month, after initially saying that he would leave the cap in place.

Psaki's statement says that Biden will "set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15".

Another concern has been the record pace of unaccompanied migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, which has drawn in numerous resources that would go to vetting, processing and resettling refugees in the US.

She blamed Mr Biden's failure to deliver on the 62,500 figure that he announced to Congress two months ago on "the decimated refugee admissions programme we inherited".

Ms Psaki said Mr Biden's order on Friday was meant to allow refugee flights to the United States to begin within days.

But Biden has not issued a presidential determination since his administration notified Congress, as required by law.

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Under Biden's new plan, the 15,000 slots would be allocated this way: 7,000 for Africa, 1,000 for East Asia, 1,500 for Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 1,500 from the Near East and South Asia, and 1,000 for an unallocated reserve.

If resettlement continues at the current pace, Biden "is on track to resettle the lowest number of refugees of any president in US history", according to the International Rescue Committee refugee advocacy group.

Biden, who took office in January, had signaled two months ago plans to raise the cap to 62,500 during the 2021 fiscal year ending on September 30, but held off on actually doing so.

That statement came just hours after Menendez reminded Biden that there are "29.6 million refugees worldwide".

Refugee admissions reached historic lows under Trump, who portrayed refugees as a security threat and made limiting the number of immigrants allowed into the United States a hallmark of his presidency.

"It is a factor", said Psaki, noting that the Office of Refugee Resettlement "has personnel working on both issues and so we have to ensure that there is capacity and ability to manage both". The asylum seekers at the border are not handled by the U.S. Refugee Program, which has its own people and budget.

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.

Menendez, who said that Trump "abdicated America's global leadership" by setting the cap as low as he did, maintained a collegial tone with Biden but emphasized that the new president's decision had hamstrung hundreds of refugees whose transit to the United States was already in process.

"The global need for resettlement has never been greater", Hetfield said.

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