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White House Walks Back on Refugee Cap After Backlash

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The Biden administration is attempting to clarify an earlier directive on the refugee cap that “has been the subject of some confusion,” as the White House press secretary put it.

In a statement released on Friday by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, she explained Biden last week “sent to Congress his budget for the fiscal year starting in October 2021, which honors his commitment. For the past few weeks, he has been consulting with his advisors to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1.”

She continued, “Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely.”

According to Psaki, Biden was urged while finalizing that determination 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.”

She continued, “With that done, we expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15.”

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The Biden administration received harsh criticism for announcing the intention of keeping the refugee cap set by the Trump administration, as IJR reported.

“As a refugee, I know finding a home is a matter of life or death for children around the world. It is shameful that [POTUS] is reneging on a key promise to welcome refugees, moments after [Rep Schakowsky] [Rep Jayapal], myself and others called on him to increase the refugee cap,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also tweeted,  “Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise. Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong. Keep your promise.”

The president promised in February he would raise the limit of 15,000 refugees established by the Trump administration for this year as well as increase the annual refugee admissions cap to 125,000 for the following fiscal year.

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