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Immigration Law

Under Biden, Refugee Admissions Hit Record Low

Julie Watson, Associated Press, Oct. 5, 2021

"Refugee admissions to the United States fell to a record low during the 2021 budget year, despite President Joe Biden’s pledge to reverse the sharp cuts made by the Trump administration, according to figures obtained by The Associated Press.  A total of 11,445 refugees were allowed into the United States during the budget year that ended on Thursday, according to a person with access to the information who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the figure. ... The U.S. president determines the cap on refugee admissions each budget year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Biden didn’t take office until almost four months after the last fiscal year began.  The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the number.  The 11,445 refugee admissions total falls far below the nation’s cap of 62,500 for the 2021 budget year that Biden set in May. It’s also below the record-low ceiling of 15,000 that Trump had initially set for the year.  Biden initially indicated he would not override the 15,000-person cap, saying in an emergency determination that it “remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest.”  But that brought sharp rebuke from Democratic allies who criticized him for not taking the symbolic step of authorizing more refugees this year. The White House quickly reversed course and raised the cap, though Biden said at the time that he did not expect the U.S. would meet the new 62,500 ceiling with only four months left in the 2021 budget year, given the ongoing restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic and work the administration says is needed to rebuild the program.  Refugee advocates said the record-low number reflects the damage done by the Trump administration to the program. Before the 2021 budget year, the lowest number of refugees allowed in was during the 2020 budget year when the number hit 11,814.  The historical yearly average was 95,000 under previous Republican and Democratic administrations."