President Joe Biden declared Monday that his administration would lift the refugee admissions quota to the previously announced targets of 62,500 for fiscal year 2021 and 125,000 for fiscal year 2022.
Biden made the announcement after facing heavy backlash for leaving the 2021 refugee quota at 15,000 – a level set by former President Donald Trump.
“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 an issued statement.
He admitted it is a “sad truth” that United States will not actually be able achieve 62,500 refugee admissions this year, but added that by setting the goal it nonetheless would serve to “remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world.”
“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.”
The United States has admitted just 2,050 refugees as of March 31, according to the Refugee Processing Center.
“A robust refugee admissions program is not only critical to U.S. foreign policy interests and national security objectives, it is a reflection of core American values,” said Blinken. “As part of addressing the broader migration crises around the world, our refugee admissions program must be restored so that those fleeing persecution can enter the United States.”
During his presidency, Trump steadily decreased refugee admissions, starting with 50,000 in 2017, then falling to 45,000 in 2018, 30,000 in 2019, and 18,000 in 2020.
On April 20, the administration announced that Biden would sign an emergency determination to keep the 15,000 refugee quota in effect, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki immediately retracted the statement after immigration activists slammed it.
She issued a statement to clarify “some confusion” it had caused, stating Biden’s goal of 62,500 “seems unlikely” due to the Trump administration’s decimation of the refugee admonitions program and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement.