President Joe Biden called to more than quadruple the number of refugees to be resettled in the United States but two months later continues to delay the move over “political optics,” CNN reports.
Biden entered office with an eye on rolling back his predecessor’s policies, which including slashing the refugee cap from over 100,000 when he entered office to 15,000 in the 2020 fiscal year. But Trump’s cap is still in place, and the United States is on pace to accept the lowest number of refugees in modern history with just over 2,000 admitted thus far.
Biden told Congress he would raise the cap for the fiscal year that ends in September to 62,500 before doubling that the following year.
But two months after informing Congress of his decision, Biden still hasn’t signed the presidential directive instructing federal agencies to allow more refugees.
A problem of “optics”:
Biden’s reluctance to sign off on the order comes from concerns over “optics” as his administration faces criticism for a surge of migrants at the Southern border, though the border issue has nothing to do with the overseas refugee program.
One Democratic aide described the hesitation over optics as “vintage Biden.”
A White House spokesperson told CNN that Biden "remains committed to rebuilding the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program," adding that a "new Presidential Determination is under active consideration” and "in the meantime, the work to rejuvenate the program to support increased refugee admissions is well underway.”
Democrats slam delay:
A group of Democrats, led by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, a former refugee, on Friday sent a letter to the White House calling on Biden to raise the cap.
“Having fought for four years against the Trump Administration’s full-scale assault on refugee resettlement in the United States, we were relieved to see you commit to increasing our refugee resettlement numbers so early in your Administration. But until the Emergency Presidential Determination is finalized, our refugee policy remains unacceptably draconian and discriminatory,” the letter said.
“We must keep our promises to people who have fled unthinkably brutal conditions in their home countries and live up to our ambition to provide them a safe haven to re-start their lives.”