The Biden administration will keep in place the historically low refugee cap set by former President Donald Trump, a senior administration official said Friday.
President Joe Biden had pledged in February to raise the limit of 15,000 refugees set for this year by Trump and increase the annual refugee admissions cap to 125,000 for the next fiscal year. Days later, the State Department notified Congress that it planned to expand the refugee cap for this current fiscal year to allow up to 62,500 refugees to resettle in the United States.
But the Biden administration on Friday confirmed that it would not increase that cap, although a senior administration did announce that Biden would sign an emergency presidential determination to speed up admissions and change the regional allocation of those refugees to allow refugees from regions previously excluded by the Trump administration.
But Biden has nonetheless faced more pronounced criticism from lawmakers, immigrant advocates, families of refugees and other supporters for not following through on his promise to boost refugee admissions. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday acknowledged in the press briefing that the record tide of migrants arriving at the U.S. southern border played a factor in the president's decision against following through on his pledge to raise the cap.
A report released by the humanitarian aid group International Rescue Committee this week found that Biden is on track to admit fewer refugees than an president in U.S. history. Midway through fiscal 2021, only 2,050 refugees have been admitted to the U.S., according to the analysis.
"We intend to use all 15,000 slots under the new Emergency Presidential Determination and will closely monitor progress toward that end," the administration official told reporters, adding that the administration would consult with Congress "should we need to increase the number of admissions to further address the unforeseen emergency situation."
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