White House defends Biden decision to raise refugee cap
UPDATED 7:30 PM PT – Sunday, April 18, 2021
U.S. officials said Joe Biden is committed to raising the cap of refugee admissions this year, just days after announcing he would stick with the cap set by President Trump.
First, Biden signed orders limiting refugee admissions to 15,000, which scrapped Democrats’ original plan to raise it to more than 62,000. However, after backlash from party members and refugee activist groups, Biden reversed course and the White House announced a new limit would be set in May.
It is unclear what this number will be, but Biden officials have shared concerns that they cannot meet the aggressive demands set by Democrats.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to ABC and said refugee holding centers are in terrible condition, and Biden officials did not see how raising the cap limit would help.
“The refugee system that we found was not in place, did not have the resources — the means — to effectively process as many people as we hoped,” Blinken said. “It’s going to be very hard to reach the 62,000 this fiscal year.”
.@MarthaRaddatz presses Sec. of State Antony Blinken on the Biden administration’s refugee cap: “125,000 next year — is that your goal?”
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) April 18, 2021
Reports said Biden has also feared inviting more refugees into the country while the southern border deals with an influx of migrants.
Other officials have said meeting the 62,000 refugee goal is not reasonable, including White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Biden’s National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan.
Sullivan noted, Biden so far has only promised to raise the cap from 15,000, despite the calls of Democrats and left-wing groups to continue raising the number.
“He will raise the cap, [but] we haven’t determined the number,” Sullivan said. “When I said new target, what I meant was a target above 15,000. I’m not going to get ahead of where the process will land.”
In the meantime, the Biden administration has claimed it will not make a final decision until mid-May.