Tag Archives: Reversal

In Another Reversal, Biden Raises Limit on Number of Refugees Allowed Into the U.S.

Oxfam America, a nonprofit organization, said in a statement: “We are relieved that the Biden administration has, after a long and unnecessary delay, kept its promise to raise the refugee admissions cap for this year to 62,500.”

The back-and-forth about the refugee program is the latest turn in the president’s struggle to deal with the immigration system.

On his first day in office, Mr. Biden proposed a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws and issued a number of executive orders aimed at rolling back Mr. Trump’s policies. But after about 100 days, immigration legislation still has not advanced in Congress. And for weeks, Mr. Biden delayed raising refugee admissions, despite a plea from his own secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, to make good on his commitment.

The administration has also had to defend its response to a surge of migrants at the border with Mexico, even as Mr. Biden has continued to rely on a Trump-era health rule to rapidly turn away many migrants from entering the United States without providing them a chance to apply for asylum. The administration has said the rule is necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The president’s Republican critics have seized on the issue as a political weapon, accusing Mr. Biden of making poor policy choices that opened the floodgates to illegal immigration during a pandemic.

The administration, however, has made progress in safely processing migrant children and teenagers out of border detention facilities and into temporary shelters. While more than 5,000 minors were stuck in facilities run by the Border Patrol in March, on Monday, the administration recorded roughly 600 minors in such jail-like facilities.

White House officials have urged migrants not to come to the United States now, but have promised that Mr. Biden will work to increase legal opportunities to live, work and visit the United States. Eleanor Acer, the director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, said the president must continue to do that.

Author: Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

An Early Promise Broken: Inside Biden’s Reversal on Refugees

Author Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Presidents normally raise refugee admissions at the end of the fiscal year. But Mr. Biden would allow up to 62,500 refugees to enter the United States before Oct. 1 by declaring the “grave humanitarian concerns” around the world an emergency.

The president made no mention of refugees in a flurry of immigration-related executive orders on his first day in office. But on Feb. 4, only two weeks later, he announced his plans with a flourish during a speech at the State Department.

“It’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged, but that’s precisely what we’re going to do,” Mr. Biden said. He did not mention the 62,500 number, but repeated his promise of 125,000 starting in October and added, “I’m directing the State Department to consult with Congress about making a down payment on that commitment as soon as possible.”

On Feb. 12, the president delivered on the specific commitment to Congress, pledging to resettle 62,500 refugees fleeing war and persecution at home. Mr. Blinken delivered the message to lawmakers along with Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, and Norris Cochran, the acting health secretary at the time.

“They went there and presented a really thoughtful plan, and we were so thrilled,” said Mark J. Hetfield, the chief executive of Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a resettlement agency.

“And then,” Mr. Hetfield said, “it just evaporated overnight.”

The effect of the president’s delay in Washington was felt throughout the world.

Resettlement agencies had already booked flights for hundreds of refugees.

Such immigrants must be identified as refugees by the United Nations or other organizations and clear several rounds of vetting that can take, on average, two years, according to the National Immigration Forum, an advocacy organization. Roughly 33,000 refugees have received such approval, and about 115,000 are in the pipeline to be resettled.