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Biden Walks Back Reversal on Refugee Cap

President said earlier Friday he'd keep the limit at Trump's 15K, prompting an outcry
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 16, 2021 4:07 PM CDT
Updated Apr 16, 2021 5:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – Facing swift blowback from allies and aid groups, the White House on Friday said President Biden plans to lift in the next month his predecessor’s historically low cap on refugees, after initially moving only to expand the eligibility criteria for resettlements. Biden earlier Friday moved to accelerate refugee admissions but kept former President Trump's limit of 15,000 refugees for this year, the AP reports, triggering a backlash. Biden stated in his emergency determination that the admission of up to 15,000 refugees this year "remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest." But should the cap be reached before the end of the current budget year and the emergency refugee situation persists, then a presidential determination may be issued to raise the ceiling. That will be done by May 15, the White House said.

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said later that Biden has been consulting with his advisers to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the US between now and Oct. 1, the change of the fiscal year. She said “given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited,” it’s now unlikely that Biden will be able to boost that number to 62,500 as he had proposed to Congress two months ago. The head of the International Rescue Committee had called Biden's earlier decision to stick with 15,000 "deeply disappointing," per CNN. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted that "Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise." The president hadn't given a reason for leaving the cap alone, other than to say “it’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged."

(Read more President Biden stories.)

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