Biden to allow up to 62,500 refugees into US after criticism

By: AFP      Published: 03:23 AM, 4 May, 2021
Biden to allow up to 62,500 refugees into US after criticism

President Joe Biden announced Monday, after coming under fierce criticism, that he was raising the maximum number of refugees allowed into the United States this year to 62,500/

The change follows backlash from allies for Biden's earlier decision to keep the Trump-era limits -- a politically costly moment of confusion that stood out in a White House notable for its iron discipline in the first three months.

"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," Biden said in a statement.

"The new admissions cap will also reinforce efforts that are already underway to expand the United States' capacity to admit refugees so that we can reach the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions that I intend to set for the coming fiscal year."

The course correction was quickly welcomed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is controlled by Biden's Democratic party.

"I welcome the Biden administration's announcement that it will increase the number of refugees allowed to be resettled in the United States. This is an important step in continuing our proud, bipartisan tradition of providing refugees protection through resettlement," the committee chairman, Senator Bob Menendez, tweeted.

Trump clamped down on refugees as part of the hardline border policies at the heart of his nationalist political platform. Biden campaigned on promises to restore more traditional US attitudes. But he then backtracked after his government ran into difficulties in handling a surge of migrants entering the country illegally, or claiming asylum, at the Mexican border. 

Last month, the White House said it needed more time to "rebuild" the post-Trump refugee program and would therefore keep the cap at 15,000 for the year.