U.S. Bishops Lament Biden Flip-Flop on Raising Refugee Ceiling

AP Photo/Esteban Felix
AP Photo/Esteban Felix

The U.S. Bishops have expressed their disappointment with Joe Biden’s reversal of a promise to raise the refugee ceiling by 800 percent if elected.

Last June Biden told NBC that if he was elected President, he would start by “raising the target to a minimum of 125,000 people a year in my first year,” something he has decided not to do.

“The Biden Administration announced Friday afternoon that it will not increase the historically low number of refugees who can be resettled in the United States for the current fiscal year,” the bishops noted on their website Monday.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration, expressed disappointment that the refugee admissions number for the fiscal year will continue to be at a historic low.

“The number of refugees who will be welcomed this year is far short of what we can do as a country and is not an adequate response to the immense resettlement need,” Bishop Dorsonville said in a statement.

“We will work with the Administration, state and local officials and communities, and our colleagues to ensure that every one of the 15,000 refugees re-affirmed as this year’s ceiling are resettled safely and as quickly as possible,” the bishop added.

“Given the unprecedented number of refugee families seeking new homes after being persecuted for religious, political, and other reasons, we appreciate that the U.S. refugee admissions program will now offer previously left out refugees an opportunity to resettle in our country,” he continued.

“At the same time, we were hopeful that the Biden Administration would increase the ceiling for refugee admissions in this fiscal year, and we are disappointed that it has not yet done so,” he said.

According to the New York Times, the Biden administration decided to “keep the target of refugee admissions for this year at the historically low level set by the Trump administration, walking back an earlier pledge to welcome more than 60,000 refugees into the United States.”

A senior White House official said the reversal was caused by public opposition to the border chaos, noting that “the surge of border crossings by unaccompanied minors was too much and had already overwhelmed the refugee branch of the Department of Health and Human Services,” the Times reported.

The White House has left itself some wiggle room, promising the announcement of a final refugee ceiling in mid-May.

“The President’s directive today has been the subject of some confusion,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. “We expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15.”

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