President Joe Biden raised the refugee cap to 62,500 Monday following weeks of criticism that his administration was too slow in revising former President Donald Trump’s cap.
Trump ordered before leaving office that no more than 15,000 refugees could be accepted into the U.S. during the fiscal year 2021, a level both Biden and other Democrats criticized as far too low. The White House had previously said it would keep Trump’s cap in place for the time being, however, with the ultimate goal of setting a 125,000 refugee cap in 2022.
“Today, I am revising the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year,” Biden said in a Monday statement. “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. The new admissions cap will also reinforce efforts that are already underway to expand the United States’ capacity to admit refugees, so that we can reach the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions that I intend to set for the coming fiscal year.”
Biden warned that while he was raising the cap, he still does not expect that the U.S. will admit a number near 62,500, arguing that the policies of the Trump administration prevented such an increase so soon.
“The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year. 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 said. “We have reopened the program to new refugees. And by changing the regional allocations last month, we have already increased the number of refugees ready for departure to the United States.”
Thirty-four Senate Democrats wrote a letter to Biden urging him to raise the cap to 62,500 last week, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. (RELATED: White House Backtracks After Top Dems Slam Biden’s Decision To Keep Trump’s Refugee Caps In Place)
“The United States must reject the previous Administration’s cruel legacy of anti-refugee policies and return to our longstanding bipartisan tradition of providing safety to the world’s most vulnerable refugees,” the senators wrote.