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Biden keeps US refugee cap at 15 000 rather than raise it

Biden keeps US refugee cap at 15 000 rather than raise it”

President Joe Biden signed an order on Friday to keep the US refugee cap at a historically low 15,000, a senior administration official said, opting against a plan he had been considering to raise it to 62,500.

Except that while the Biden administration has certainly improved the federal government's approach to dealing with asylum seekers, undocumented immigrants, and the immigration system more broadly, there's at least one failing from the Trump era that Biden has inexplicably hesitated to fix: the disgracefully low number of refugees admitted to the United States.

Under an emergency presidential determination signed by Biden, the United States will offer refugee status to a wider part of the world than had been allowed by Trump, a senior administration official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Kudos to the AP for not falling for the spin", the head Post fact-checker tweeted.

Biden aborted his plan to raise the refugee cap from its current historic low of 15,000, to the chagrin of Democratic allies and activists who condemned Trump's policies.

The White House later said Mr Biden would raise the refugee cap next month. And though the global refugee population has increased by roughly 50 percent since then, the United States has mostly shrunk its refugee cap, even before Trump's presidency.

Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, an global Jewish humanitarian organization that provides services to refugees and asylum-seekers in 16 countries, said in a statement that Biden had broken his "repeated promises to significantly raise this year's refugee admissions cap".

The 15,000 asylum applications would be distributed as follows: 7,000 for Africa, 1,000 for East Asia, 1,500 for Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 for Latin America and the Caribbean, 1,500 for East and South Asia. "Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely", Psaki said.

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Another concern has been the record pace of unaccompanied migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, which has drawn in numerous resources that would go to vetting, processing and resettling refugees in the US.

"While finalizing that determination, the President was urged to take immediate action to reverse the Trump policy that banned refugees from many key regions, to enable flights from those regions to begin within days; today's order did that", Psaki said.

But Biden has not issued a presidential determination since his administration notified Congress, as required by law.

The State Department, which co-ordinates flights with resettlement agencies, booked 715 refugees to come to the United States with the anticipation that Biden would have acted by March, but those flights were cancelled since the refugees were not eligible under Trump's rules, according to resettlement agencies. But this needn't be so complicated: Biden ought to just make good on his campaign promise by raising the cap significantly. But migrants at the border seeking asylum are processed in an entirely separate system than refugees fleeing persecution overseas.

Biden has not fulfilled his promise to restore America's leadership as a safe haven for the world's oppressed, he added.

Some 35,000 refugees have been cleared to go to the United States, and 100,000 remain in the pipeline and their lives remain in limbo, said David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee.

"This leadership is sorely needed", he said.

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