The Biden administration announced on Friday that the president will sign an emergency presidential determination to hold the number of refugee admissions at 15,000 — the same number that Trump admitted his final year in office.
But after an outcry from radicals, Biden did an about-face and indicated he would actually increase refugee admissions this year.
“The president’s directive today has been the subject of some confusion,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in an afternoon statement.
No, no confusion at all. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said to Biden “jump” and Biden asked, “how high?”
Completely and utterly unacceptable. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise.
Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong.
Keep your promise. https://t.co/A82xYf1XpR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 16, 2021
Biden had promised on the campaign trail to raise the number of refugees. Activists were hoping that up to 125,000 refugees would be allowed this year. With the pandemic and the surge at the border overextending immigration resources, Biden’s initial goal of allowing 62,500 people into the U.S. wasn’t going to be realized.
In the later statement indicating the number could go higher than 15,000, Psaki said that Biden had been consulting with advisors to “determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1.”
“Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” she said, a reference to the ongoing crisis at the southern border, of which the ORR is a key agency in dealing with migrant children.
But why the total cave to the left? Perhaps someone gently reminded the president that doing anything like Trump would lose him critical support. The radicals may be tetched, but their support will be necessary for Biden to do anything in Congress.
Psaki then said that with the reforms to the refugee admissions in place, a new updated cap will be announced before the middle of May.
“While finalizing that determination, the President was urged to take immediate action to reverse the Trump policy that banned refugees from many key regions, to enable flights from those regions to begin within days; today’s order did that,” she said. “With that done, we expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15.”
The controversy represents the latest political difficulty for the Biden administration, which has been facing intense pushback over its handling of the continued crisis at the southern border.
Is this how it’s going to be for the next four years? Joe Biden’s surrender to the AOC wing of the Democratic Party on immigration is a foretaste of what we can expect going forward.