Saturday, April 17, 2021
Despite previously announcing that his administration would increase refugee admissions from the 15,000 designated by President Trump, President Biden announced yesterday that he would stick to 15000 for fiscal year 2021. As the Los Angeles Times described matters: "After hours of outcry over the emergency determination, the White House appeared to backtrack, saying in a statement later Friday that Biden instead would announce a new cap next month." Here is the Statement by Press Secretary Jen Psaki on the Emergency Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2021:
"The President’s directive today has been the subject of some confusion. Last week, he sent to Congress his budget for the fiscal year starting in October 2021, which honors his commitment. For the past few weeks, he has been consulting with his advisors to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1. Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely.
While finalizing that determination, the President was urged to take immediate action to reverse the Trump policy that banned refugees from many key regions, to enable flights from those regions to begin within days; today’s order did that. With that done, we expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15."
This is a troubling development. Will the Biden administration adhere to its campaign promises? Or will it succumb to pressures to tighten the border in response to what Republicans call a "crisis"?