The administration of President Joe Biden is likely to kiss the refugee resettlement target it has set for this year, human rights advocates say, another sign that Biden is not likely to right the many wrongs of his predecessor’s refugee policies.
The new administration has set the goal at 62,500 refugee by October but apparently it will get nowhere near those numbers unless it ramps up the program.
“Despite the Biden administration raising the admissions ceiling and removing restrictive eligibility categories, as of this week, the U.S. has only resettled 3,600 refugees this fiscal year,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
He said the Biden administration is “undoubtedly making progress” but there’s still much to be done.
Oer the past 30 years, the U.S. has resettled about 95,000 refugees on average each year, rights groups say.
A recent poll by the International Rescue Committee — YouGo showed that 56% of Americans think that should be the minimum number. However, experts say it could take years to again reach that many annual arrivals after Donald Trump cut them dramatically.
“Under the previous administration, we witnessed year after year of record-low admission ceilings. As a direct result, more than 100 local resettlement sites were forced to either suspend services or shut down entirely. A system that took 40 years to build was devastated in just four years,” Vignarajah said.
In fact, a new report recently released by rights organization Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) suggested that the expansion of a community sponsorship system along with a private sponsorship program by the Biden administration will help better support refugee resettlement in the country.
“The Biden administration should take this moment to reassert U.S. leadership by meeting its promise to rebuild the refugee program,” the AIUSA report says.
Earlier in his term, President Joe Biden signed an executive order keeping the admission of refugees capped at 15,000 for fiscal 2021, a number set by the administration of former President Donald Trump.
Following criticism from Democratic allies and human rights advocates, Biden raised the cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year.
According to sources familiar with the data, there are currently about 2,800 people considered “ready for departure” to the U.S. and more than 78,000 in various stages of the U.S. resettlement process overseas.