(USA Features) President Joe Biden will now lift former President Donald Trump’s historically low caps on the number of refugees the U.S. will admit annually after getting pushback from allies and special interest groups.
Earlier, Biden said he planned to leave the number at 15,000 for the time being as his administration continues to deal with a migrant crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In an emergency declaration signed by the president earlier on Friday, he said the 15,000 refugee limit “remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest.”
“But if the cap is 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,” The Associated Press reported.
That decision, however, drew swift condemnation from Democrats including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, also chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who called the decision “unacceptable.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden would be consulting with adviser to come up with a number of refugees that realistically could be admitted to the U.S. between now and Oct. 1, which is the end of the fiscal year.
She said “given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited,” it’s “unlikely” Biden could raise the number of admissions to 62,500 as he proposed to Congress earlier this year.
Nevertheless, Biden was pressed by advisers 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.”
“This cruel policy is no more acceptable now than it was during the Trump administration,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said, pushing back on Psaki’s explanation.
“To be clear: the asylum process at the southern border and the refugee process are completely separate immigration systems. Conflating the two constitutes caving to the politics of fear.”