President Joe Biden on Monday announced, after coming under heavy criticism, that he was raising the maximum number of refugees allowed to enter the United States this year to 62,500 – from the ceiling of 15,000 imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump .
The change follows allied reaction to Biden’s earlier decision to maintain Trump-era boundaries – a politically costly confusing moment that stood out in a White House notable for its iron discipline over the course of his first three months.
“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.
“The new admission cap will also bolster efforts already underway to expand the ability of the United States to admit refugees, so that we can meet the target of 125,000 refugee admissions that I intend to set.” for the coming fiscal year. “
The course correction was quickly welcomed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, controlled by Biden’s Democratic Party.
“I welcome the Biden administration’s announcement that it will increase the number of refugees allowed to be resettled in the United States. This is an important step in continuing our proud bipartisan tradition of providing protection to refugees through resettlement, ”said commission chair Senator Bob Menendez tweeted.
The American Civil Liberties Union, a powerful rights group, also expressed approval, saying the country’s “reputation” was at stake.
“We are pleased to see that President Biden has abandoned the Trump administration’s abysmal refugee goal and has re-committed to prioritizing aid to people fleeing persecution around the world,” he said. said ACLU representative Manar Waheed.
“We recognize that the goal may not be easy and that it requires rebuilding a system that has been decimated by the Trump administration, but candidate Biden has promised,” Waheed said. “He must keep this promise, lives are at stake.”
– Biden needs party unity –
Trump cracked down on refugees as part of the harsh border policy at the heart of his nationalist political platform.
Biden campaigned on promises to restore more traditional American attitudes. But he then backtracked after his government struggled to deal with an influx of migrants entering the country illegally or seeking asylum at the Mexican border.
Last month, the White House said it needed more time to “rebuild” the post-Trump refugee program and therefore would keep the cap at 15,000 for the year.
After a top Democrat and refugee aid groups called Biden’s target “woefully low” and “deeply disappointing,” the White House issued a statement hours later, saying the low number n was only temporary.
In another change from Trump’s policy, Biden announced in April that quotas were being expanded for refugees from Central America, the Middle East and Africa, while also opening the doors to three predominantly Muslim countries. – Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
With Monday’s announcement, the White House hopes it has calmed political waters among Democrats just as it needs party unity to push forward huge social spending and infrastructure projects in a Congress almost also divided.
“We are in the midst of the largest global refugee crisis in history, and after four years of reducing admissions to the lowest level on record, we must regain our leadership position,” said another Democratic senator, Tim Kaine.
“I am comforted by today’s announcement which has evolved towards respecting our values of accepting refugees.”
© 2021 AFP