- The Biden administration admitted 11,411 refugees to the US in fiscal year 2021, well below the president’s revised refugee entry limit of 62,500.
- It comes as President Joe Biden works to reverse radical refugee policies set by former President Donald Trump, which reduced the number of refugees arriving in the US and placed limits on who is eligible.
The Biden administration admitted 11,411 refugees to the US in fiscal year 2021, far below the president’s refugee entry limit of 62,500 for that year.
The new number of admitted refugees, released by the State Department this week, is nearly a fifth of the threshold for the fiscal year ending September 30, and the largest number of people admitted through the Refugee Act since its passage in 1980. number is low. .
It comes as the administration works to reverse harsh policies set by former President Donald Trump, which reduced the number of refugees arriving in the US and placed limits on who is eligible. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has complicated the administration’s process of accepting refugees.
President Joe Biden instituted a new cap in May after facing pressure from Democratic lawmakers and immigration advocates to quickly increase the 15,000 refugee limit Trump implemented before he stepped down.
At the time, Biden also promised to raise the cap to 125,000 for fiscal year 2022.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement last month that the president has sent a report to Congress detailing his intention to increase the refugee cap for the first full fiscal year of his presidency.
“A strong refugee admissions program is critical to US foreign policy interests and national security objectives, and is a reflection of Native American values,” Price said in the statement. By law, presidents must consult with Congress before determining how many refugees should be allowed in each fiscal year.
Biden acknowledged in May that the cap is unlikely to be reached, citing work to undo the “losses of the past four years” under Trump.
During fiscal year 2017, when Trump took office, the State Department only reported 53,716 refugees admitted to the US. 85,000.
The low number of refugee admissions under the Trump administration has also hit the US resettlement infrastructure, with many agencies closing their offices. according to a Penn Biden Center report Since last year, nearly a third of local resettlement offices across the country have closed or suspended operations as of April 2019.
As of the end of December 2020, fewer than 1,000 refugees were processed under Trump’s 15,000 cap, according to State Department data.
Krish O’Mara Vignaraja, president and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, in a statement on Monday highlighted the former president’s role in “record-low” refugee admission numbers.
“We are saddened but shocked by this fiscal year’s record low admissions figures,” O’Mara Vignaraza said in the statement. “It speaks to the lasting damage of the Trump administration’s four-year attack on the refugee program.”
He said the global pandemic has also hampered refugee resettlement efforts. For example, the State Department said the pandemic prevented officials from conducting in-person interviews abroad with refugees hoping to come to the US, according to The Associated Press. reported on Monday.
“The rebuilding program from the wreckage is further complicated by the pandemic, which has prevented the federal government from processing a robust pipeline of refugee arrivals,” O’Mara Vignaraza said.
Bill Freelick, director of Human Rights Watch’s refugee and migrant rights division, said in a statement that the Trump administration “destroyed the refugee settlement infrastructure.”
“The Biden administration could not be expected to rebuild it in a day,” Frelick said in a statement on Thursday.
However, he still expressed dismay at the low refugee admissions.
“More than 51,000 places that could have been used to save lives and restore hope were lost forever,” Frelik said in the statement. “It’s not just about the numbers. These are the people whose lives are on the line.”