Biden backtracks on refugees, raises six-month limit to 62,500

Washington: US President Joe Biden has backtracked and will now allow as many as 62,500 refugees to enter the United States during the next six months, eliminating the sharp limits that former president Donald Trump imposed on those seeking refuge from war, violence or natural disasters.

The action comes about two weeks after Biden announced he was leaving Trump’s limit of 15,000 refugees in place, which drew widespread condemnation from Democrats and refugee advocates who accused the president of reneging on a campaign promise to welcome those in need.

Fatima Nayeli, 13, left, and her sister, Cynthia Stacy, 8, answer questions from a US Border Patrol agent at an intake site after they were smuggled on an inflatable raft across the Rio Grande in Roma, Texas.Credit:AP

Biden quickly reversed, promising only hours later that he intended to increase refugee admissions.

“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,” Biden said in a statement issued by the White House.

His sharp reversal underscored the difficulty he has had on issues involving immigration since taking office. Biden has struggled to unwind what he calls Trump’s “racist” immigration policies while also managing a surge of migrant children at the south-western border.

Joe Biden has come under pressure from allies in Congress to admit more refugees.Credit:AP

His initial hesitation to allow tens of thousands of additional refugees into the country was a recognition that he was already being criticised for failing to stem the flow of illegal immigration from Central America.

Over the past four years, efforts by Trump to limit the entry of refugees were among the most potent symbols of the United States’ decision to turn away from its decades-long role as the leading destination for displaced people around the globe.

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden promised to restore the country’s reputation for welcoming those seeking safety, saying he would allow as many as 125,000 refugees to enter in his first full year in office. He took a step toward that goal in February, promising to allow as many as 62,500 refugees into the United States for the rest of the fiscal year.

So the April 16 announcement that he was keeping the Trump-era limits in place for the time being was all the more baffling.

The New York Times

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