Biden Caves to Special Interest Groups and Increases Refugee Numbers for 2021
President Biden announced this week that he will be drastically increasing the refugee admissions cap from 15,000 to 62,500 for fiscal year 2021, and to as high as 125,000 for fiscal year 2022. Just three weeks ago, however, President Biden pledged that he would maintain the 15,000 cap on resettlement of refugees due to exigent circumstances that include a global pandemic and its economic effects on American workers.
Biden quickly caved to criticism from mass immigration advocates and politicized this decision. “Today, I am revising the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year,” Biden said in a statement. “This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.”
Similar to DHS Secretary Mayorkas’ strategy of blaming the border crisis on the Trump administration’s purported “dismantling” of the asylum system, President Biden rationalized his bait and switch on the refugee cap by claiming it was necessary to repair damage caused by the previous administration. And similar to the fact that the Trump administration did not dismantle the asylum system (nearly twice as many people received asylum per year under the Trump administration than under the Obama administration), the refugee cap originally set for 2021 reflected an overall increase in refugee admissions when considering anticipated number asylum claims for the year.
Maintaining the lower 15,000 figure reflected the reality of the severe global and domestic challenges posed by the pandemic and the previous administration’s commitment to prioritizing the economic security of Americans. What the Biden administration did not attempt to meaningfully justify, however, is increasing the refugee cap by more than eight-fold for fiscal year 2022 while illegal border crossings continue at a 20-year high and Americans continue to endure severe economic hardships.