US President Joe Biden will attend a CEO Summit on Semiconductor and Supply Chain Resilience via video conference from the Roosevelt Room at the White House on April 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Amr Alfiky | Getty images
President Joe Biden said Saturday he will raise the limit on the number of refugees allowed into the United States this year, a day after he was criticized by Democratic lawmakers for agreeing to keep the historically low figure in place.
Biden on Friday signed an order extending a maximum of 15,000 refugees, issued by his predecessor Donald Trump until the end of September. With the signing of the order, Biden suspended a plan announced in February to increase the limit to 62,500.
Biden told reporters in Delaware Saturday after playing golf that he would go beyond the 15,000 limit.
“We’re going to increase the number. The problem was that the refugee section was working on the crisis that ended at the youth border. We couldn’t do two things at once, so now we’re going to increase the number,” he said.
While Biden was criticized by lawmakers and refugee advocates, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that he planned to “set a permanently raised refugee ceiling for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15”.
Biden’s order to limit the number of admissions to 15,000 was a blow to advocacy groups who wanted the Democratic president to act quickly to reverse Republican Trump’s refugee policy, which had set the figure in part to limit immigration.
The refugee admission program is separate from the migrant asylum system. Refugees must be vetted while still abroad and approved to enter the United States, unlike migrants who arrive at a US border and then apply for asylum.
Biden’s cautious approach appears to be linked to concerns about the optics of allowing more refugees in at a time of increasing numbers of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border, and with a desire not to be ‘too open’ or ‘soft’. ‘look out, another US. knowledgeable official, previously told Reuters.
Psaki said Friday that Biden’s “initial target of 62,500 seems unlikely … given the decimated refugee admissions program we have inherited.”
Republicans have blamed Biden for the situation at the border, blaming his attempts to reverse other hardline Trump-era immigration policies.
Biden took office with the goal of charting a new course for US immigration policy, including a more compassionate approach. But his initial decision to leave the caps in place went against his promises as a candidate.