Refugees arriving in US unlikely to exceed cap set by Trump

SAN DIEGO: President Joe Biden, under political pressure, agreed to admit four times as many refugees this budget year as his predecessor did, but resettlement agencies concede the number actually allowed into the U.S. will be closer to the record-low cap of 15,000 set by former President Donald Trump.

Refugee advocates say they are grateful for the increase because it’s symbolically important to show the world the United States is back as a humanitarian leader at a time when the number of refugees worldwide is the highest since World War II. But they’re frustrated, too, because more refugees could have been admitted if Biden hadn’t dragged his feet.

“About 10,000 to 15,000 is what we’re expecting,” said Jenny Yang of World Relief, adding that Biden’s inaction for months after taking office in January was “definitely problematic.”

“That delay meant not being able to process refugee applications for four months. We weren’t able to rebuild for four months, so it really was unfortunate,” Yang said.

Biden first proposed raising the cap to 62,500 in February in a plan submitted to Congress, but then refused to sign off on it for two months before coming back April 16 and suggesting he was sticking with Trump’s target.

Democratic allies and refugee advocates lambasted him, saying he was reneging on his campaign promise in the face of bipartisan criticism over his handling of an increase in unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“To be clear: The asylum process at the southern border and the refugee process are completely separate immigration systems. Conflating the two constitutes caving to the politics of fear,” said Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Weeks later, on May 3, Biden raised the cap.

So far this year only about 2,500 refugees have arrived, with less than five months left before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

More than 35,000 refugees have been vetted and approved to come to the United States, but thousands were disqualified under the narrow eligibility criteria Trump established in October when he set the low cap. - AP