The administration said earlier Biden would sign an emergency determination that would maintain the fiscal year’s target of 15,000 refugee admissions – a historically low number set by former President Donald Trump. The move, an abrupt reversal of his promise to lift the cap to 62,500, prompted immediate blowback among Democratic allies and advocacy groups.
The order instead lifted refugee admission restrictions on regions previously blocked by the Trump administration, including Africa and the Middle East, and said the president would consult with Congress “should we need to increase the number of admissions to further address the unforeseen emergency situation.”
The White House said Friday President Joe Biden plans to increase the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States next month, hours after facing public outcry over a surprise decision to keep a Trump-era cap in place.
In February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken had announced the U.S. would allow 62,500 refugees to resettle, saying the move was “justified by grave humanitarian concerns.”
Democrats and human rights groups blasted the earlier announcement that the caps would stay the same for now.
Rep. Ilham Omar, D-Minn., called Biden’s decision to keep the Trump-era cap “shameful.”
“As a refugee, I know finding a home is a matter of life or death for children around the world,” tweeted Omar, herself a refugee whose family fled Somalia’s civil war in the 1990s. “It is shameful that @POTUS is reneging on a key promise to welcome refugees.”