comScore Biden Promises to Raise Refugee Cap After Criticism

Biden Promises (Again) to Raise the Refugee Cap After Getting Pummeled by Progressives on Twitter

Joe Biden talks from a podium with the presidential seal

Last week, Joe Biden said he would not be increasing the historically low cap on refugees that Donald Trump set during his presidency. By the end of his term, Trump reduced the limit to just 15,000 refugees per year, about 1/10 of what Barack Obama set during his last year in office.

During his campaign, Biden promised to reverse Trump’s restrictive and racist refugee policies, but he’d been facing growing criticism for the delay in doing so. On Friday, when he announced that he would sign an emergency determination keeping the cap at Trump’s disgraceful 15,000, the pushback was immediate and it was harsh—deservedly so.

Within hours, Biden had already started to change course, saying his administration would increase the refugee cap by May 15, but not providing many other details. In a statement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the full number would be set next month, but that “Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely.”

It is true that Trump “decimated” this program, but not everyone is convinced that Biden’s original promise is so unrealistic.

“The idea that the number can’t be set higher because we are not sure if there is the capacity for resettlement orgs to process makes no sense. If they can’t process, they won’t. But also, these orgs have been preparing for this since Biden won b/c it is what he promised to do,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal wrote on Twitter.

“They have hired staff, put all preparations in place & now are left in the lurch. My office has spoken with several of the orgs: none of them believe capacity is the issue. Many refugees have already been processed & are just waiting to be resettled & reunited with family.”

After months of delays and dismissing questions about his plan to reverse Trump’s horrible refugee policies, there will definitely be a lot of eyes on whatever decision Biden makes next month, especially now that he’s shown he’s willing to listen to (which is a nicer way of saying “submit to intense public condemnation from”) his more progressive allies.

(image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.