Historically, under Trump, the US has let few refugees into the country. The current US President Joe Biden also initially wanted to keep the limit. After partyhe now reacts to internal criticism.
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After criticism from fellow party members and aid organizations, US President Joe Biden has now raised the upper limit for the admission of refugees significantly. The limit set by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump to a maximum of 15,000 refugees per year will be increased more than four times to 62,500, as the White House announced on Monday.
The Trump administration’s “historically low” ceiling “did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees,” Biden said.
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The number is the upper limit of refugees who can be admitted in the current financial year in the course of resettlement by the United Nations. For the next fiscal year, the Biden government is even aiming for an upper limit of 125,000 refugees. The US budget year runs from October 1st to September 30th.
The first announcement caused a storm of indignation
Biden had initially put the plans for a significantly increased refugee intake on hold in mid-April. Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, said the US program to take in vulnerable refugees selected by the UN for resettlement would not have to be “rebuilt” until after the Trump years. Therefore, the upper limit of 15,000 refugees will remain in place until further notice.
The announcement caused indignation among Biden’s Democrats and aid organizations. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrat Bob Menendez, spoke of a “shockingly low” figure. The White House then rowed back, saying the number was provisional.
Biden is now returning to the limit of 62,500 refugees that he had targeted before mid-April. Nonetheless, he said on Monday: “The sad truth is that we won’t be able to take 62,500 pictures this year.” The Trump administration is responsible for this: “We are working quickly to repair the damage of the past four years. It will take some time, but the work has already started.”
Senator Menendez welcomed the announcement: It was an “important step” in continuing the “proud” US tradition of receiving refugees. The civil rights organization ACLU also welcomed Biden’s decision: It would “not be easy” to rebuild the admission program that was damaged under Trump. But Biden must keep his “promise”.
Left party wings insist on humane refugee policy
The president has initiated a move away from Trump’s tough stance on refugee and immigration policies. The left wing of the ruling Democrats is particularly keen on this.
Trump had continuously reduced the number of refugees allowed into the country in the course of resettlement by the United Nations, in his last year in office to the record low of 15,000. Under his predecessor Barack Obama, more than 100,000 refugees were admitted each year.
Migration and refugee policy are highly controversial issues in the USA. Biden has also turned away from Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration on the border with Mexico. The US authorities begin this week with the reunification of migrant families who were separated at the border during Trump’s tenure.