President Joe Biden recently signed an emergency determination to speed up refugee admissions to the U.S but did not lift former President Trump’s historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for the year, despite promises earlier this year to raise the limit to 125,000. While President Biden is going to be changing the regional allocation of those refugees, he will not change the cap’s number.
According to a senior administration official, Biden will be allowing more slots from Africa, the Middle East, and Central America, while ending restrictions on Somalia, Yemen, and Syria. President Biden’s proposed refugee allocations include 7,000 for Africa, 3,000 for Latin America/Caribbean, 1,500 for Europe and Central Asia, 1,500 for near East and South Asia, 1,000 for East Asia, and 1,000 for unallocated reserve.
While Secretary of State Antony Blinken has proposed lifting the cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there has been a “delay” and that the refugee cap will remain the same. She tried to shift some of the blame onto the Trump Administration, even though Biden campaigned on the promise to increase the limit.
“It took us some time to see and evaluate how ineffective, or how trashed in some ways the refugee processing system had become, and so we had to rebuild some of those muscles and put it back in place,” Psaki said.
Psaki later tweeted that changing the restrictions on where refugees came from is the first step in rebuilding the resettlement program and that the Biden Administration is committed to continuing increasing refugee numbers. “This is just the beginning,” she tweeted. Only the Biden administration would walk back their claims and spin 15,000 as a sort of “new victory.” Typical.
Others pointed to public pressure and damaged poll numbers for why President Biden is keeping the refugee cap the same as Trump’s. According to a Quinnipiac poll of 1,237 adults, Biden’s border crisis has gotten him 64% disapproval among independents and 55% disapproval among Latinos. Just 22% of swing-voting independents and 27% of Latinos support his policies to release hundreds of thousands of migrants into the country and raise the refugee cap.
The International Rescue Committee responded to the determination as a “disturbing and unjustified retreat from the 62,500 level announced by the Biden Administration in February. They wrote that the cap does not take account of the fact that over 35,000 refugees have already been vetted and cleared for arrival, as well as over 100,000 in the pipeline that would be waiting years to be reunited with loved ones.
Now, Democrats are criticizing President Biden for not raising the refugee cap, including “squad” member Rep. Ilhan Omar. “There are simply no excuses for today’s disgraceful decision. It goes directly against our values and risks the lives of little boys and girls huddled in refugee camps around the world. I know, because I was one,” Omar tweeted.
Another “squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also called out Biden for promising to welcome immigrants on the campaign trail and having people vote for him based on that promise. She called the refugee cap “completely and utterly unacceptable” and said that the Biden Administration is wrong for upholding the “xenophobic and racist policies” of the Trump administration. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has joined in and urged President Biden to accept more refugees, claiming that America has a “moral responsibility” to do so. Whatever that means.
President Biden’s talks of raising the refugee cap have overwhelmed detention centers and compromised border security. There has also been a wave of drug and human trafficking at the border since he took office. The seizure of the drug fentanyl, for example, has increased 233% at the southwestern border by Customs & Border Protection agents. Immigration laws need to be stricter, not weaker. But President Biden knows he can break all of his promises because the radical left will whip votes for him again in 2024, regardless of what he does right now.
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