Update: Late Friday, April 16, the White House released a new statement that the President will “set a final increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15.” JRS/USA will continue to monitor the situation and urges the President to stand by his commitment to increase refugee admissions to 62,500 in FY21.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is deeply disappointed in President Biden’s announcement that he has signed a Presidential Determination for US Refugee Admissions that will limit the number of refugees accepted into the US to 15,000 this year, an all-time low set by the Trump Administration. The Administration made repeated promises to significantly raise the cap of refugees resettled in the US to 62,500, but has broken their promises with today’s announcement. This decision will have a devastating impact on thousands of refugees waiting for resettlement to the United States.
“Almost 80 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes, but less than 1% of refugees are resettled to a country like the US every year,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director. “Resettlement is a critical way to protect some of the most vulnerable refugees who face specific or urgent protection risks and we must do more.”
President Biden expressed his intention to increase the refugee admissions number to 125,000 in Fiscal Year 2022 before assuming office, in his first few weeks as President, and most recently in his FY22 budget proposal. A goal of 62,500 for the current year would have allowed refugee resettlement agencies to rebuild a program that serves as a critical lifeline to refugees seeking an opportunity to reunite with family members and rebuild their lives.
In an effort to safeguard the US refugee resettlement program from similar cuts in the future, JRS/USA and its supporters advocated on behalf of the Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act during its annual Advocacy Day on April 15. This legislation will restore the US as a global leader in refugee resettlement and will prevent the President from setting a Presidential Determination at a level below 125,000.
“We urge Congress to swiftly pass the GRACE Act so that refugees will no longer fall victim to the whims of a President, but rather US refugee policy will be based on facts, meeting the demands of the global refugee crisis,” said Giulia McPherson, Director of Advocacy.