The White House does not expect to keep its new goal of raising the 2021 refugee inflow to 62,500, up from 15,000, according to press reports.
The Hill recently reported President Joe Biden’s refugee policy reversal came with “an unexpected caveat: The administration doesn’t expect to meet its own goal,” adding:
The warning came alongside President Biden’s announcement on Monday that the U.S. would lift its refugee cap to 62,500 this fiscal year, with the aim of processing 125,000 by the end of next year — a goal that, if fulfilled, would mark a significant turnaround for a program that was cut to a historic low of 15,000 refugees a year under the Trump administration.
Fiscal years start on October 1 of the previous year. This means fiscal year 2021 is underway and will end on September 30, triggering the beginning of fiscal 2022 the following day.
In April, Biden blamed the ongoing border crisis for his decision to keep the refugee admissions at 15,000. Republicans believe the new administration helped create the crisis by undoing the former president’s border policies.
“The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people, and we couldn’t do two things at once. And now we’re going to increase the numbers,” Biden told reporters on April 17.
“That infuriated advocates who were elated by Biden’s earlier pledge to dramatically increase the cap — a move they argued would help restore U.S. leadership as a nation capable of absorbing and welcoming refugees,” the Hill noted.
Coronavirus pushed poor foreign migrants out of jobs & out of big cities.
So NYC, LA need replacement migrants to avert the unimaginable — recruiting & hiring from Americans' national labor market, at higher wages.
Biden & Mayorkas jump into action:https://t.co/msMeEivboP
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) May 8, 2021
In keeping a campaign promise that made pro-immigration advocates happy, Biden announced plans in early February to increase the annual refugee admissions ceiling to 62,500 this fiscal year and 125,000 in fiscal 2022, up from the 15,000 admission cap proposed by Trump.
However, the White House on April 20 reneged on the 62,500 refugee cap, telling the State Department it would keep the Trump-imposed ceiling of 15,000, a move sparking outrage among immigration advocates and some Democrats.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki quickly resorted to damage control after the announcement to quell criticism.
In a statement, she said sought to clarify “some confusion” it had caused, stating the president’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, a component of the U.S. State Department.
Under a pressure campaign from Democrats and refugee advocates, the Biden administration ultimately reversed its refugee position to keep the admissions cap at 15,000, choosing to keep his campaign promise to raise the 2021 ceiling to what it initially announced in early February — 62,500.
However, President Biden’s new refugee admission ambitions appear like a tall order, with the White House itself acknowledging it is facing steep challenges ahead.
“The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” Biden wrote in the announcement Monday, citing the logistical difficulties of processing tens of thousands of refugees by the end of the fiscal year on September 30.
The Biden Administration blamed the Trump administration for its inability to make the refugee admissions process more efficient.
“We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway,” the president continued.
Nevertheless, President Bidens’ delay in announcing an official refugee admissions camp has harmed the efficiency of the process.
According to State Department data obtained by the Hill, 3,100 refugees were “flight ready” in early March.
Still, only 271 refugees were ultimately allowed into the U.S. that month.
The State Department had to cancel over 700 flights purchased for refugees earlier this year in anticipation of an expanded admissions cap because Biden had not signed a new presidential declaration for the ceiling at the time, the New York Times reported in March.
“Families were told their loved ones were booked on flights to be reunited with them after years of family separation. … I really cannot overstate how heartbroken some of the refugees were,” Meredith Owen, director of policy and advocacy for Church World Service, said.
“There was significant harm caused by the delay,” she added.
Forget borders?? DHS Chief to Western Hemisphere: We shouldn’t look at borders “as lines that mark national boundaries and divide us”, but as “a point of connection” that unites us. https://t.co/KGDeqbjZmO via @BreitbartNews
— Edwin Mora (@EdwinMora83) May 5, 2021