Sen. Elizabeth Warren and advocacy groups this week questioned why the Biden administration has not lifted the cap on refugee admissions as President Joe Biden promised after taking office.
Biden signed an executive order rolling back some of Trump’s refugee policies in his first weeks in office and in February announced that he would raise the refugee cap from its historic low of 15,000 under Trump to 62,500 and raise it further to 125,000 for the fiscal year beginning in October.
But Biden has not actually done so yet, and Trump’s historically low cap remains in effect.
As a result, Biden is on track to accept the fewest refugees of any modern president, including Trump, according to a new report from the nonprofit humanitarian aid group International Rescue Committee.
The Biden administration has admitted just 2,050 refugees thus far and is projected to accept just 4,510 refugees for the entire fiscal year, less than half the number admitted in Trump’s final year.
“I don’t know the specific reason why [Biden] hasn’t signed, and it’s really unusual that he hasn’t signed,” Nazanin Ash, the IRC’s vice president for global policy and advocacy, told The Washington Post. “It is typically a standard, automatic last step in the process.”
Warren also said she does not “know why there’s a hold-up.”
“I want to understand why this hasn’t already happened,” she told HuffPost.
“I know the difficulties of going through the vetting process and can’t imagine the disappointment felt by too many as we postponed their ability to call the United States their home,” said Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. “Abandoning those who fled unthinkable atrocities does not align with the values we hold as Americans—nor does it align with the promises set by this administration.”
No answer from White House:
The State Department deferred questions on the issue to the White House.
“The president remains committed to raising the cap,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week. “When it’s signed, we will update you all.”
Outgoing White House border coordinator Roberta Jacobson told CNN last month that the administration would roll back Trump’s policies in a “deliberate way.”
“As we dismantle ... the Trump administration’s policies of cruelty, including those record-low levels of refugees, we have to make sure that we’re doing it in a way that is well considered and that responds to where the need is,” she said.