The Biden administration faced swift criticism on Friday after it was reported that it would no longer raise the United States’ refugee cap from the historic low set by the Trump administration.
Rather than stick to its pledge to welcome more than 60,000 refugees, rather than the 15,000 maximum set by former President Donald Trump, the White House will instead keep the target of refugee admissions at the lower level. Democrats and advocacy groups condemned the news as “cruel” and “unacceptable,” and noted that the Biden administration was using the same justification that Trump did.
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’s team is using the same rationale to justify a historically low refugee cap as Trump’s did, pointing to the large influx of asylum-seekers (which are not the same). At left, what a Biden official told @KannoYoungs today; at right, what a Trump official told me in 2018. pic.twitter.com/26PDfh3rM2
— Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) April 16, 2021
Biden keeps the Trump / Stephen Miller refugee cap. Genuinely curious to hear Biden allies explain how what was “racist” and “cruel” under Trump is now enlightened and humane. https://t.co/1kRFNqbiqg
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) April 16, 2021
Reuters reports the decision “appears to have been tied to concerns over the optics of admitting more refugees at a time of rising numbers of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months.” An official reportedly told Reuters the administration doesn’t want to look too “soft” or “too open.” Though officials are reportedly arguing that migrants seeking asylum have overwhelmed the system, “refugees are processed differently in the U.S. immigration system than asylum seekers,” writes Reuters.
While the administration took heat from many angles, it found support from former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who was the architect of many of the Trump administration’s harshest immigration policies, including the all-time-lowest refugee cap. Miller argued it made sense and said the refugee cap should actually “be reduced to ZERO.”