The Biden administration is backtracking on a new executive order that would have kept the annual cap on refugees admitted to the U.S. at 15,000 until the new fiscal year begins in October, Fox News reports, after Democrats reacted badly to the decision.
Biden had pledged to raise the cap on refugees to 125,000 shortly after taking office, which is more than eight times the 15,000 allowed under the threshold first set by former President Donald Trump, as Fox notes.
But the border crisis and other priorities likely distracted the administration from making the change, and now it is unlikely that 125,000 refugees could be chosen and processed by October.
Even the 62,500 cap proposed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken is unrealistic and unlikely to be reached, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.
Democrats push back
“This Biden Administration refugee admissions target is unacceptable,” Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin (IL) said in a tweet in response to Biden’s order, according to Fox. “These refugees can wait years for their chance and go through extensive vetting. Thirty-five thousand are ready. Facing the greatest refugee crisis in our time there is no reason to limit the number to 15,000. Say it ain’t so, President Joe.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also weighed in via Twitter.
“Completely and utterly unacceptable. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise,” she said. “Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, [including] the historically low [and] plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong.”
Unsurprisingly, Biden soon caved to the progressive pressure while trying to make it look like he didn’t do anything of the sort.
Moving the goalposts
After the predictable Democratic blowback, Psaki said that a new target would be announced by May 15 in excess of the 15,000 provided for in the order.
“Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” she said of Blinken’s plan, according to Fox News.
“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 added in her statement. “With that done, we expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15.”
Admitting more refugees legally may not be a bad thing, if these refugees have a way to support themselves and wouldn’t have to rely on government support. It’s an idea that Trump trumpeted, but that Biden seems highly unlikely to worry about.