Biden raises refugee admissions cap to 62,500 after criticism

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Joe Biden is elevating the United States’ refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal 12 months after refugee advocates slammed the US president final month for strolling again an earlier pledge to extend the restrict.

In a assertion on Monday, Biden mentioned the brand new cap would “reinforce efforts that are already underway to expand the United States’ capacity to admit refugees”, in addition to assist his administration reach its said aim of admitting 125,000 refugees within the 2022 fiscal 12 months.

“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’s assertion reads.

Donald Trump had set the US refugee admissions cap at 15,000 – a historic low – in addition to put further restrictions in place that narrowed the factors for resettlement within the nation.

In February, simply weeks after he took workplace, Biden had promised to boost the admissions cap to 62,500 for the 2021 fiscal 12 months, which runs till the top of September.

But the US president went again on that dedication final month, saying his administration would depart the Trump-era cap in place in the meanwhile.

That announcement drew the ire of refugee advocates in addition to members of Biden’s personal Democratic Party, who demanded he instantly elevate the cap to permit refugees in dire want of safety to return to the US.

Amid the flurry of criticism, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki mentioned Biden would revisit the query with a watch in the direction of setting a “final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15”.

The Biden administration had mentioned Trump gutted the refugee resettlement system and that it might take time to rebuild it. In his assertion on Monday, Biden mentioned, “The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year.”

However, he added: “We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already under way.”

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) mentioned in a report in April that with out elevating the cap, Biden was on monitor to admit the fewest refugees this 12 months of any US president in historical past.

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Washington, DC, mentioned refugee resettlement is completed on a geographical foundation, with areas given a selected variety of slots.

Hanna mentioned it was essential to notice Biden mentioned the US could not reach the 62,500 cap as a result of staffing shortages attributable to “the ravages of the previous administration”. But Biden additionally mentioned he plans to extend the restrict to 125,000 subsequent 12 months.

“So on the one level, President Biden [is] making a massive U-turn here in terms of his policy on refugees returning, at the other hand saying it may not be achievable because of staff shortages, and finally, saying that this cap is going to increase in the next 12 months,” Hanna reported.

‘Good for refugees’

Refugee advocates welcomed Biden’s announcement on Monday, with IRC President and CEO David Miliband calling the choice “good for America and good for refugees”.

“We welcome the bold steps to build back refugee protection after four years of deeply damaging policy,” Miliband mentioned in a assertion.

“The road to fully rebuild is long, and we will continue to face challenges, but at the IRC we are ready to roll our sleeves up and partner with the administration to return America to a position of global leadership on refugee protection.”

US refugee resettlement companies had mentioned final month that they have been ready to start the method of bringing refugees into the nation – however they have been simply ready for Biden to signal a presidential dedication to formally elevate the cap and get issues shifting once more.

“It’s one signature that we need that separates all these people from safety,” Erol Kekic, director of the immigration and refugee programme at Church World Service (CWS), one of many 9 nationwide refugee resettlement companies within the US, instructed Al Jazeera at the moment.

On Monday, CWS welcomed Biden’s resolution to boost the admissions cap, which it mentioned would “allow thousands of screened refugees to finally be resettled in the United States to join family members, escape peril, and build new lives in safety”.

“This follows a months-long delay in finalizing an increased admissions goal, which jeopardized the safety of many and had already caused irreparable damage to thousands of refugees who were already approved for resettlement,” the group added in a press release.

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