Yesterday, President Biden belatedly announced that he would keep his promise to raise the refugee ceiling to 62,500 for the remainder of the current fiscal year, having previously resorted to:
President Joe Biden announced Monday that he would increase the annual refugee limit for former President Donald Trump, who only accepted 15,000 refugees during his tenure.
Biden’s announcement came after receiving heavy criticism last month for announcing that he would keep Trump’s cap after promising to expand it by more than 300 percent. Today he said he would reverse course again and try to fulfill that earlier promise, though he said it probably wouldn’t happen until September 30th, the end of the fiscal year.
“Today I am revising the annual limit for the admission of refugees to the US for this fiscal year to 62,500,” he said in a statement. “The sad truth is that we won’t achieve it [that goal] this year. We are working quickly to reverse the damage suffered over the past four years. It will take time, but this work is already under way. We have reopened the program for new refugees … “
The president’s announcement in April confused many, not least because his alleged statement was inconsistent with reality. The New York Times reported that his administration described the influx of unaccompanied migrant children on the border as too burdensome for the refugee system.
“The refugee program and the unaccompanied child program are separate items in the HHS budget,” David Bier, a research fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Freedom and Prosperity, told me last month. “This is all about politics.”
As I stated in a post last month, after the horror of the Trump era, the Biden administration has made important strides in reopening America to immigration. But the broken promise on the refugee hat is one of several areas in which Biden has seriously missed out.
Monday’s announcement begins to fix this bug. The President has also pledged to hit 125,000 for the next fiscal year. Much remains to be done, however. Unfortunately, as Biden admits, the administration is unlikely to even be able to hit the 62,500 figure. In large part, that’s because they have fluctuated for so long.
Biden’s plan to increase refugee admission to 125,000 a year would be a major improvement not only on the record lows under Trump, but even on the Obama-era numbers. But it’s still well below the 208,000 enrolled in 1980 by a much smaller and poorer U.S. population, or the 160,000 enrolled in 1981 under the infamous left-wing radical Ronald Reagan.
Basically, there is no good reason why the number should be capped or why the cap should be left to the whims of those who are currently occupying the White House in any given year. Rather, the federal government should allow private organizations to support as many refugees as they want in order to save the greatest possible number of people from tyranny and oppression while at the same time minimizing the burden on public finances. Private sponsorship of refugees has worked well in Canada and could do the same for the US. Even under the current system, refugees make valuable contributions to the economy and end up adding more to the public purse than they take out.
In his honor, President Biden actually directed the State Department to work on a private sponsorship program for refugees. However, it is not yet clear how far this initiative will go.