White House Reconsidering Refugee Cap after Blowback: Report

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President Biden speaks at the White House, Washington, D.C., April 14, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

The White House is again considering raising the cap on refugee resettlement following blowback from immigrant-rights groups, three people familiar with the deliberations told the Washington Post.

The Biden administration is reportedly weighing whether to raise the refugee cap to roughly 62,500, up from the 15,000 cap set by the Trump administration. The new deliberations come despite White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s remarks on April 16, in which she indicated that the 62,500 target was too ambitious.

“Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” Psaki said at the time.

President Biden called to raise the cap to 125,000 during his campaign, while in February his administration proposed raising the cap to 62,500 in a report to Congress. Biden then signed an executive determination in April which retained the 15,000 refugee cap. Hours later, following criticism from progressive lawmakers, Psaki announced that the cap would be raised by May 15, but she stipulated that the 62,500 goal was unrealistic.

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The president was reportedly concerned about the optics of raising the refugee cap while dealing with a massive surge in illegal immigration at the southern border, anonymous sources told CNN and the Post.

Immigrant rights groups and progressive Democrats criticized the Biden administration earlier this month for apparently keeping the Trump administration cap.

“It is simply unacceptable and unconscionable that the Biden Administration is not immediately repealing Donald Trump’s harmful, xenophobic, and racist refugee cap that cruelly restricts refugee admissions to a historically low level,” Representative Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) said in a statement.

Mark Hetfield, president of Jewish refugee resettlement organization HIAS, told the Post that “the wheels came off” on refugee policy.

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