Joe Biden, the President of the United States, signed an order on Friday to limit the refugee admissions in the United States this year to the historically low fifteen thousand cap set under former President Donald Trump, dropping the plan to elevate it to sixty-two thousand and five hundred and drawing the anger of refugee supporters and some Democratic representatives.
However, the criticism increased after the release of a statement from the White House saying Biden would set a concluding, increased refugee cap for the rest of this fiscal year by 15th March. The president’s order to restrict admissions to fifteen thousand was a setback to advocacy groups that wanted him to move quickly to withdraw the refugee policies of his predecessor Trump, who previously set the number as a way to restrict immigration.
The Biden-signed order will allow more refugees to come from some specific countries and withdraw Trump’s restrictions on refugees from Yemen, Syria, and Somalia. Before leaving office, Donald Trump imposed restrictions on refugee admissions in the county in 2021, including a cap of fifteen thousand refugees. Moreover, the Biden program for admitting refugees is separate from the asylum system for immigrants. Refugees must assessed while still overseas and cleared for entry to America, unlike immigrants who arrive at a United States border and then request asylum.
Two months ago, Biden signaled his plans to raise the cap during the ongoing fiscal year ending on 30th September but held off on actually doing so. The cautious approach of the president appears to tie to fears over the optics of admitting more migrants at a time of mounting numbers of immigrants arriving at the United States-Mexico border in the last few months.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Representative, tweeted that the cap was wholly and utterly acceptable. She wrote that the president promised to welcome migrants, and people voted for Biden based on that promise. Pramila Jayapal, the U.S. Democratic Representative, called the recent decision of Joe Biden not to raise former President Trump’s “racist, xenophobic and harmful refugee cap” unacceptable.
Completely and utterly unacceptable. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise.
Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong.
Keep your promise. https://t.co/A82xYf1XpR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 16, 2021
Furthermore, the former White House adviser under the Trump administration and an immigration hardliner, Stephen Miller, tweeted that the Democratic president was probably concerned that border issues might lead to losses for the party in the 2022 midterm elections. Further, he declared his zero favor for refugee admissions.
Thoughts on this announcement:
1. This reflects Team Biden’s awareness that the border flood will cause record midterm losses *if* GOP keeps issue front & center
2. Staggering # being released at border DWARF # saved by not raising cap
3. Refugee cap should be reduced to ZERO* https://t.co/RyMEcMKQms
— Stephen Miller (@StephenM) April 16, 2021
Refugee supporters called Biden’s decision unfair and stated that there are around thirty-five thousand refugees who already checked for security and cleared for entrance in the United States, with a total of around one lac at several phases in the pipeline. Previously, the refugee groups expressed frustration that the president delayed the process of issuing the cap for months, which left refugees who scheduled to travel stranded. The president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) resettlement agency, Mark Hetfield, said that almost seven hundred flights canceled because of the delay.
Refugee Admissions Reached Historic Lows under Trump Administration
A mounting number of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America, many of them seeking asylum, were detained at the border during the last few months. Moreover, the refugee program offers a way for individuals to apply abroad to resettle in America. The small number of slots for Central Americans discouraged the refugee advocates in the announced cap.
The admissions of refugees reached historic lows under Trump’s era. He portrayed refugees as a security threat for the national security and restricted the number of allowed migrants into the U.S., a hallmark of his presidency. Furthermore, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) refugee advocacy group called the recent action of Biden an unjustified and disturbing retreat.