Joe Biden, who had announced that he would raise the refugee quota limit, changed his mind and decided to keep the annual quota at the historic low set by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Biden set a maximum of 15,000 people who will be allowed into the country as refugees but removed the Trump administration’s restrictions on what types of refugees qualify under that limit.
Backtracking on refugee quota pledge
Two months ago, Biden submitted a plan to Congress to increase the refugee quota but has not issued a presidential resolution, as required by law. The measure implied, then, backtracking on the Biden-Harris administration’s promise to raise to 62,500 the number of refugees admitted for the fiscal year ending in September.
The decision may become a controversial issue because human rights organizations and members of the Democratic Party, such as Nancy Pelosi, had called for raising the refugee cap for the fiscal year.
According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Biden’s intention is to return to the previous system that was in place until 2019, a procedure that divides the overall allocation of refugee quotas by region.
In March, the United States recorded the highest number of border apprehensions in nearly two decades, including a record number of children and teenagers traveling alone.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the delay in announcing the measure was due to the alleged fact that “the refugee processing system is broken.”
Refugee quotas by region
With Biden’s amendment, the U.S. will now receive, until October, 7,000 refugees from Africa; 1,500 from the Middle East and South Asia; 1,000 from East Asia; 1,500 from Europe and Central Asia; 3,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean; and another 1,000 not assigned to any region.
Trump’s 2021 plan designated 5,000 slots for refugees facing religious persecution; 4,000 for refugees from Iraq who helped the United States; and 1,000 for refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, leaving 5,000 for other countries.