The ceiling has been lowered several times, the most recent being 15,000. In mid-February, the Biden government notified Congress that the limit should be raised to 62,500 for the current fiscal year. But on Friday (local time), Biden only ordered a change of the criteria for origin so that the Trump-imposed upper limit could at least be exhausted. Then the Democrats faced much criticism from the left wing of his party as well as from human rights activists – and a shift followed.
In response to the criticism, the White House said there had been “some confusion” about the matter. The refugee admission system has been so severely eroded by Republican Trump that Biden’s original goal seems out of reach for now. Biden spokeswoman Gene Saki said the president wanted to set a new cap for the remaining months through September, including May 15, at the latest. The aim of the Friday order was to simply enable additional registrations from certain regions immediately.
Several US media outlets accused Biden of taking an hesitant course on the matter. “This is a shift from the previous turn,” said a CNN journalist, usually more sympathetic to Biden. The New York Times wrote that the White House had “suddenly changed course” due to the criticism.
For the next US fiscal year beginning in October, Biden had promised to raise the refugee limit to 125,000. This goal continues to apply. Trump’s limit of 15,000 was the lowest since the refugee program was introduced in 1980. Trump was sworn in as president in 2017; The year before his term, the ceiling was 85,000. Refugees are usually screened in their countries or regions of origin and, if successful, taken to the United States by plane.
Left-wing Democrats harshly criticized Biden’s order on Friday, which appeared to be dropping the cap for the current year. “Maintaining the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump administration, including the historically low and sharply receding ceiling, is simply wrong,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.
More than two dozen lawmakers signed an open letter to Biden demanding that Biden change course – a blatant form of resistance rarely seen since Biden took office. Without change, the letter said, refugee policy would remain “unacceptably harsh and discriminatory.” The deputies wrote: “We must fulfill our promises to people who have fled the unimaginable brutal conditions in their countries of origin and achieve our goal of providing them with a safe haven so that they can start their lives anew.” Amnesty International also criticized Biden for his course.
The administration of the new US president also faces another challenge when it comes to immigration: The number of immigrants and refugees from Mexico to the United States across the southern border has increased dramatically recently. Among them are thousands of unaccompanied minors.
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