United States President Joe Biden speaks about America's employment plan after touring Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Virginia on May 3, 2021.
Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will raise the annual US refugee cap for the fiscal year to 62,500 attendees, revising the much lower number set under the Trump administration, which "did not reflect American values," he said Monday.
"It is important to take these measures today to remove all doubts on the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much and are eagerly awaiting the start of their new lives," the president said in a statement.
Biden also said he plans to set a ceiling of 125,000 refugee admissions for the following fiscal year.
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The Biden administration has faced immense pressure from Democrats and activists to quickly raise the refugee ceiling from the historic low of 15,000 set under former President Donald Trump.
After Biden signaled in mid-April that he would keep the Trump-era cap, his own party's lawmakers publicly tore down the Democratic president.
"President Biden broke his promise to restore our humanity," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Chair of the Progressive Congressional Caucus at the time.
Shortly after the backlash, the White House said there was "confusion" in its news and promised to address the refugee cap by May 15.
Meanwhile, Republicans have criticized Biden's handling of a surge in migrant arrivals along the US-Mexico border. GOP lawmakers have urged the government to reinstate some of Trump's strict immigration policies, which Biden canceled when he took office. The media also spoke out against the administration for restricting access to the press in reports of congested border installations at the height of the surge.
Biden's statement on Monday afternoon said the US refugee program embodied "America's commitment to protecting the most vulnerable and serving as a beacon of freedom and refuge for the world."
"It's a statement of who we are and who we want to be. So we'll rebuild what broke and do everything we can to complete the rigorous screening process for the refugees who are already in the pipeline for admission are located, "said the President.
But "the sad truth," he noted, "is that we're not going to get 62,500 approvals this year."
"We are working quickly to repair the damage of the past four years. It will take time, but this work is already underway. We have reopened the program to new refugees. And by changing the regional allocations last month We already increased the number of refugees who are ready to leave for the US, "he said.
Biden also admitted that his goal of 125,000 refugee admissions over the next year "will still be difficult to achieve".
"We may not make it in the first year. But we will use every tool available to help these fully screened refugees fleeing dire conditions in their home countries," he said. "This will validate American leadership and values in welcoming refugees."
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