The Slatest

Biden Will Allow More Refugees, After Previously Announcing Trump-Era Restrictions Would Stay

People climb out of an inflatable raft in shallow water and one man runs with a baby on his shoulder at night
Asylum-seeking migrants’ families in Roma, Texas, after crossing the Rio Grande on April 22. Go Nakamura/Getty Images

President Joe Biden announced he will raise the government’s cap on the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. this year to 62,500, quadrupling the restrictive 15,000 limit that was imposed by the Trump administration. The move restores the trajectory of the country’s refugee policy to its historical commitment to accepting refugees from war-torn countries. “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 in a statement. “The United States Refugee Admissions Program embodies America’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable, and to stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge to the world. It’s a statement about who we are, and who we want to be.”

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The number of refugees was sharply curtailed under the Trump administration, as were just about all forms of legal immigration to the U.S. Biden campaigned on restoring the country’s commitment to being a safe harbor for refugees, and signaled in February he intended to fulfill the pledge, before reversing that stance in the face of political pressure surrounding an influx of migrant children arriving at the southern border. Biden abruptly announced three weeks ago that he would, in fact, keep the 15,000 Trump limit. Facing instant anger from his own party, Biden almost immediately walked back that announcement, recommitting to increasing the number of refugees allowed in the country.

While the new Biden administration policy allows for tens of thousands more refugees to come to the country, it appears unlikely that many will be able to be processed. The 62,500 cap is for this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. By the end of March, halfway through the fiscal year, just 2,000 refugees had been admitted into the country. Biden said he intends to double the new cap to 125,000 for 2022.

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