U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday revived plans to increase refugee enrollment to 62,500 this year, after initially raising criticism from supporters that the refugee cap was kept at a historically low level.
Biden formally changed himself within two weeks of his administration announcing that it had the cap at the 15,000 level set by its predecessor Donald Trump.
In a statement, Biden said his move “destroys the historically low number of 15,000 set by the previous administration, which does not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.”
“It is necessary to take this step today to dispel the lingering doubts in the minds of refugees around the world, and they are eagerly awaiting the start of their new lives,” he said.
As soon as he took office in January, Biden promised to speed up the program, but surprised allies when he wanted to stick with the low hat under concern for poor optics, as the number of immigrants crossing the U.S. southern border with Mexico has increased, U.S. officials have said.
Biden’s overthrow has angered refugee lawyers and some Democratic lawmakers.
Trump has steadily reduced the size of the refugee program during his tenure, and Biden officials say these cuts have made it more difficult to quickly increase enrollment.
But the refugee program is different from the asylum system for immigrants. Refugees come from all over the world, and many are fleeing. Unlike immigrants who come to the U.S. border and then seek asylum, they must be allowed to enter the United States from abroad.
Work to ‘undo the damage of the last 4 years’
Biden said it was doubtful whether the United States could welcome a total of 62,500 refugees by Sept. 30 by the end of the current fiscal year or reach the 125,000 enrollment target next year.
“The sad truth is that we will not reach 62,500 combinations this year,” he said. “We are working quickly to repair the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”
A White House official said Biden now wants to raise the hat regardless of capabilities, saying “accepting the initial low notice” does not send the right message, “to send a very clear message that the refugee process is an important part of America’s place in the world.”
There was a delay in Biden’s decision on the matter, as hundreds of refugee flights already allowed to travel to the United States were canceled, often after years of waiting, refugee groups said.
The 4 families separated on the Mexico border need to be reunited
Earlier, the Biden administration said four families separated during the Trump presidency on the Mexican border would be reunited in the United States this week, saying Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Myorgas was the “beginning” of a broader effort.
Two out of four families, mothers who separated from their children in late 2017, one Honduran and another Mexican, Majorcas, refused to describe their identities. He described them as three-year-old children at the time and “young people who had to live without parents in the most developed years.”
Michael Bryan, executive director of the family’s family reunification task force, said the parents would return to the United States on humanitarian parole, while officials are considering other long-term legal status. The children are already in the United States
How many families will be reunited in the United States is in line with negotiations with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to settle a federal lawsuit in San Diego, California, but Majorcos said it is yet to come.
“We continue to work tirelessly to reunite many more children with their parents in weeks and months,” Majorcos told reporters. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and the reconnections we’ve made.”
More than 5,500 children were separated from their parents by July 1, 2017, during the Trump administration, and many of them have filed in court seeking criminal punishment for any adult who entered the country illegally under the “zero tolerance” policy.
The Biden administration has been going to Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 and doing its own counting, and according to Fran, more than 1,000 families are believed to have split up.
Family separation under “Zero-Tolerance” ended in June 2018 under a court order, and shortly after Trump changed course, Biden repeatedly called the practice a heinous act. An executive order on the first day of office promised to reunite the still-separated families.