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3 May, 2021 22:14

Flip meets flop: Biden reverses course on refugee policy after criticism, QUADRUPLES CAP to 62,500 despite border crisis

Flip meets flop: Biden reverses course on refugee policy after criticism, QUADRUPLES CAP to 62,500 despite border crisis

After getting blasted for leaving the cap on US refugee admissions historically low, President Joe Biden has returned to plan A, even as his administration struggles with a flood of illegal aliens at the southern border.

Biden announced on Monday that the US will take in as many as 62,500 refugees in its current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, and aims to raise the limit to 125,000 for fiscal 2022. The new targets match Biden's previous pledges to the activist wing of the Democrats. The announcement comes less than three weeks after he came under criticism for failing to raise his predecessor Donald Trump's historically low cap of 15,000 refugee admissions.

“It is important to take this action today to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much, and who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin,” Biden said.

After last month's decision to leave the cap at 15,000 stirred outrage from the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and immigration advocacy groups, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president would announce a new cap by May 15. But in light of Trump's gutting of the US refugee program and the “burdens” of dealing with a record surge in migrant traffic at the border, she said Biden's initial goal of 62,500 for fiscal 2021 “seemed unlikely.”

Today's announcement marks yet another contradiction, but it's not clear how meaningful the new targets are. Biden conceded that “the sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year.” And he added that the projected fiscal 2022 cap of 125,000 will be “hard to hit.”

“We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years,” the president said.

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The US previously admitted about 80,000 refugees annually, on average, but the program was curtailed during Trump's term as president. The Trump administration set the cap at 18,000 in the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2020 – fewer than 12,000 were actually admitted – and lowered it to 15,000 for fiscal 2021.

Biden's decision to raise the refugee cap fourfold while targeting a further doubling of admissions next year comes amid a humanitarian and security crisis at the border, triggered by his immigration policies. With record numbers of unaccompanied child migrants crowded into US border facilities in March, it was taking an average of 130 hours – 80% higher than normally allowed – to get the new arrivals processed and transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services. During that time, many children were hungry, sleeping on concrete floors, and deprived of seeing the outdoors for days on end.

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US Customs and Border Protection has estimated that arrivals of unaccompanied child migrants will continue rising, from 16,000 in March to as many as 26,100 in September, according to documents obtained by Axios. Prior to Biden taking office in January, the previous record was 11,475.

Republicans protested Monday’s announcement, pointing to the ongoing border crisis.

“During the highest influx of illegal immigration our country has seen in 20 years, Joe Biden just raised the refugee cap over 400%,” the Republican Study Committee said. “Let's be clear: This self-inflicted crisis is absolutely intentional.”

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