The move comes after the White House publicly shifted the figure several times as it tries to negotiate a balance between pleasing immigrant advocacy groups and being mindful of the political optics of rapidly increasing admissions at a time of heavy immigration on the southern border.
No final decisions have been made, however, and timing of an announcement was up in the air, three people familiar with the deliberations told the Post.
The White House had previously announced that Biden would “set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15” and officials signaled that that Biden is likely to raise the current refugee cap of 15,000 before that deadline.
A White House spokesman declined to comment to the newspaper on internal discussions.
The reconsideration comes after a back and forth on the administration’s approach to the refugee cap, which sits at a historically low level. On April 16, the White House announced it would keep this fiscal year’s refugee cap of 15,000 set by former President Donald Trump, and not raise the cap as Biden had promised to do.
After swift criticism from refugee advocacy groups and Democrats in Congress, the White House announced hours later that Biden would set a “final, increased” refugee cap by mid-May. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that it’s “unlikely” the number would be as high as the 62,500 cap proposed earlier this year “given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement.”
During a call with administration officials last week, refugee resettlement agencies aired their frustrations over the administration’s waffling on the refugee cap and urged the White House to engage with the agencies, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Administration officials didn’t indicate at the time whether the initial 62,500 was off the table, the source told CNN.
Biden announced in February that his administration would bring the cap up to 125,000 refugees during his first full fiscal year in office, but his administration said that number was an aspirational goal.
That month, the State Department presented Congress with a proposal to expand the Trump-era refugee cap to allow up to 62,500 refugees to be resettled in the US, which was in line with Biden’s campaign commitment to raise the refugee ceiling.
For roughly two months, Biden stalled on approving the proposal increase, which sources told CNN was due to political optics, leaving thousands expected to arrive in the US in limbo.
Biden signed the emergency presidential determination on April 16 that returned to regional allocations, effectively casting a wider net of who can resettle in the US under the current 15,000 refugee ceiling.