The Biden administration formally announced Monday that it is raising the refugee cap to 62,500 this year.
Last month, President Joe Biden received blowback for not immediately lifting his predecessor's historically low cap of 15,000 refugees. That same day, the White House reversed course and said that the administration will raise the refugee cap the next month.
In a statement, President Biden said that the Trump-era cap "did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees."
"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 continued.
"The United States Refugee Admissions Program embodies America’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable, and to stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge to the world," he added. "It’s a statement about who we are, and who we want to be. So we are going to rebuild what has been broken and push hard to complete the rigorous screening process for those refugees already in the pipeline for admission."
The new allocations for the fiscal year, per the White House, are as follows:
- Africa: 22,000
- East Asia: 6,000
- Europe and Central Asia: 4,000
- Latin America and the Caribbean: 5,000
- Near East and South Asia: 13,000
- Unallocated Reserve: 12,500
Only 2,050 refugees were admitted to the U.S. as of March 31 under the previous administration's 15,000 cap, per the State Department's Refugee Processing Center.
Biden acknowledged that they may have difficulty in reaching their goal: "The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year. We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway. We have reopened the program to new refugees. And by changing the regional allocations last month, we have already increased the number of refugees ready for departure to the United States."
The president added that the budget he submitted to Congress accounts for 125,000 refugee admissions in the first fiscal year of his presidency, but added that "we might not make it the first year."
"But we are going to use every tool available to help these fully-vetted refugees fleeing horrific conditions in their home countries," Biden continued. "This will reassert American leadership and American values when it comes to refugee admissions.
The news was first reported by CNN.