After first deciding to leave the nation's cap on refugees allowed into the US where it was, President Biden announced Monday that as many as 62,500 can enter the country in the next six months. The limit applies to people seeking to escape war, violence, or natural disasters, the New York Times reports. "This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees," the president said in a statement. He'd faced a backlash from fellow Democrats, human rights activists, and advocates for refugees earlier this month when he said he'd keep the limit imposed by former President Trump. Biden then said he'd raise the number within a month.
The president has gone back-and-forth on the issue for months. He said during the campaign that he'd raise the total this fiscal year, per NPR. In February, he said he'd change the Trump policies, per the Washington Post. But the administration then fell silent on the matter for two months, worrying proponents. The delay hurt refugees, they said. Then came this month's conflicting announcements. Trump's budget and staffing cuts mean the new number of spots won't be filled. "The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year," Biden said in a statement. The head of a resettlement agency said the final number isn't what's important about the announcement. "It's a symbolic message that the White House is committed to resurrecting a lifesaving program and returning America to its global humanitarian leadership position," she said. (Read more refugees stories.)