The White House said President Joe Biden would lift the Trump-era refugee cap next month after angering members of his own party by signing an executive order last week keeping the historically low admissions ceiling, Reuters reports.
Biden announced in February that he would lift Trump’s historically low cap of 15,000 to 62,500 but failed to act for months. On Friday, he reversed his vow and signed an executive order speeding up refugee processing but keeping the existing cap in place.
The news was met with widespread outrage among top Democrats, including congressional leaders.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said the decision was “unacceptable.”
Progressives panned the order as cruel and a continuation of “racist” and “xenophobic” Trump-era policies that Biden campaigned against.
Biden flip-flops on flip-flop:
The White House quickly reversed course after the backlash, announcing that Biden would lift the refugee cap after all.
The White House said Biden would increase the cap in May but did not specify a number.
"We are going to increase the number. Problem was the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up at the border with young people. We couldn’t do two things at once, so now we are going to raise the number," Biden told reporters on Saturday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would "set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15."
Number expected to fall short:
Despite the reversal, the final number is expected to be short of the 62,500 that Biden promised.
Psaki said Friday that the "initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely ... given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also told ABC News that "it's going to be very hard to meet the 62,000 this fiscal year."
"He is absolutely committed to making sure that America is not only welcoming to refugees ... but also that we raise the cap. He is committed to that and he will follow through on that," National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told Fox News.