After seeming to set outrageously low refugee cap for 2021, White House walks it back


Less confusion, per se, and more outrage. In a statement, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois called the 15,000 cap “unacceptable,” noting that refugees wait years for a chance at resettlement and endure extensive vetting. “Thirty-five thousand are ready,” Durbin said. “Facing the greatest refugee crisis in our time there is no reason to limit the number to 15,000.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, was even less sparing, calling Biden’s target “unconscionable.” By keeping the cap at a level set by his predecessor, Jayapal said, “President Biden has broken his promise to restore our humanity.”

The outcry seems to have quickly gotten the attention of the White House. Psaki’s statement said Biden had intended to set the goal much higher but had run into the realities of the hollowed-out government left by Donald Trump.

“Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” she said. Biden’s directive on Friday had been an effort to “take immediate action” to reverse a Trump-era policy banning refugees from key regions around the world and enable flights from those regions to begin within days. “Today’s order did that,” added Psaki.

Stay tuned. It sounds like the White House will be providing further details on the cap in mid-May.

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