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Biden Hasn’t Lived Up To Promises On Refugee Admissions

President Biden took office two years ago pledging to reverse the harsh immigration policies of the Trump administration, including rebuilding a refugee program that had shrunk to a historic low. He pledged in May 2021 to "take this action" for the refugees around the world "who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin," raising the annual cap for refugees allowed into the country to 62,500. He doubled it for the following year to 125,000 – up from former President Trump's 15,000 low point, USA Today reports. Biden said the Trump era "did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees." An analysis shows that the U.S. admitted only 20% of the number Biden envisioned – almost 26,000, leaving tens of thousands of unfilled slots for people fleeing perilous conditions such as wars and natural disasters.

The number of refugees the Biden zdministration accepted in fiscal 2022 was on par with the Trump years. Refugee experts and advocates says it will likely take years for the administration to be on track to meet their goals, leaving thousands of people whose last remaining hope is safe haven in the U.S. in danger waiting in line. The administration has "been pretty clear that they're not necessarily expecting to reach 125,000 for this fiscal year, that it's a lofty goal,” said Julia Gelatt of the Migration Policy Institute. “There's been two years of rebuilding now, and I think our domestic capacity has grown to absorb larger refugee numbers.” Past administrations have not always met their quotas on admitting refugees. However, in the last full year of former President Obama's term, his administration was just shy of meeting its 85,000 admissions limit.

Trump paused refugee admissions. In his last years in office, Trump set the limit to historically low admissions: 18,000 for fiscal year 2020 and 15,000 for fiscal year 2021. The government didn't even meet those ceilings.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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