Biden adjusts Trump’s refugee policy but doesn’t increase numbers

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President Biden signed a directive Friday to rearrange refugee priorities, undoing some Trump administration priorities, but did not increase the cap beyond the 15,000 number his predecessor set for 2021, The Associated Press reported.

The move opens up more slots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Central America, which will please immigrant-rights activists. But they are increasingly demanding Mr. Biden erase the 15,000 cap that former President Trump set and follow through on the Democrat’s campaign pledge to accept up to 125,000 per year.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had teased the announcement during Friday’s daily press briefing, saying there would be news on the refugee issue.

But she also said the new administration is still trying to work its way out of what she called a “trashed” refugee process.

“So we had to rebuild some of those muscles and put it back in place,” she said.

President Obama set a cap of 110,000 refugees for 2017, but Mr. Trump cut that in half when he took office.

He then proceeded to ratchet down the number each year, leaving with a 15,000 cap set for fiscal year 2021.

That fiscal year is already halfway through, and as of March 31, just 2,050 refugees had been admitted.

The Biden administration is blaming some of the internal benchmarks the Trump administration had, such as giving priority to those fleeing religious persecution, for keeping numbers so low.

Friday’s move is designed to erase those Trump priorities and allow some of the more than 100,000 people in the refugee pipeline who may not have met the old priorities a chance to enter.

The new allocation would reserve 7,000 slots — nearly half the available total — for Africa, AP reported. Another 1,000 would go to East Asian refugees, 1,500 to Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 from Latin America and 1,600 from the Near East and South Asia. The remaining slots would be doled out as needed.

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