Politics

Biden administration to raise refugee cap to 125,000 for 2022

The Biden administration is planning to raise the refugee cap for fiscal year 2022 to 125,000, according to a source familiar with the decision, in line with the goal President Joe Biden set. (Evan Vucci/AP)

(CNN) — The Biden administration is planning to raise the refugee cap for fiscal year 2022 to 125,000, according to a source familiar with the decision, in line with the goal President Joe Biden set.

Biden previously conceded that his goal of 125,000 refugee admissions within the first fiscal year of his presidency “will still be hard to hit,” but the expected ceiling indicates how many refugees may be admitted to the US in the coming fiscal year.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration flip-flopped on raising the ceiling for fiscal year 2021, and after blowback, raised it to 62,500 people.

But from October through August, only 7,637 refugees were admitted to the US, according to the Refugee Processing Center.

The US had for years outpaced other countries in refugee admissions, allowing millions into the country since the Refugee Act of 1980. But the program took a hit under former President Donald Trump, who slashed the number of refugees allowed to come to the US and put a series of limits in place curtailing who was eligible.

Even so, at its lowest point, nearly 12,000 refugees were admitted under Trump.

The challenges, refugee advocates say, have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and Biden’s initial hesitancy to sign off on increasing the Trump-era ceiling, which dictates how many refugees are admitted in a given fiscal year.

There are more than 26 million refugees worldwide, according to the United Nations refugee agency. The pandemic has only worsened conditions on the ground for some countries and resulted in a temporary suspension on resettlement travel last year. The UN refugee agency estimates that around 74% of refugees are able to meet just half or less of their basic needs because of the pandemic.

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan and subsequent Taliban takeover also resulted in tens of thousands of Afghans fleeing from the country. The Biden administration is working on resetting more than 60,000 Afghans in the US, many of whom will be paroled into the US and don’t count toward the refugee ceiling.

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