President Biden announced Monday that he would raise the United States’ refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for fiscal year 2021.
Biden previously announced he would retain former President Trump’s 15,000 cap despite promising an increased figure on the campaign trial. In April, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the President wanted to accept more refugees but called a 62,500 person goal “unlikely” given the “decimated refugee admissions program [the Biden administration] inherited.”
Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez called the decision “completely and utterly unacceptable'” and said, “upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin…is flat out wrong.”
In his new statement, Biden again expressed doubt that the United States will be able to vet and accept 62,500 refugees before fiscal year 2021 ends on October 1. However, the President said his administration would work to rebuild the United States Refugee Admission Program (USRAP) and attempt to reach the heightened goal.
The administration has allocated the largest refugee allowances to Africa and the Near East and South Asia: 22,000 and 13,000, respectively. The updated plan also allows for a 12,500-person unallocated reserve.
President Biden hopes the action will “remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much, and who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin.” Matthew Reynolds of the UN Refugee Agency said the choice “will save lives and give tens of thousands of refugees a chance to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity in the United States.”
Biden added that he hopes to set a goal of 125,000 admissions for the 2022 fiscal year, which runs from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022.