He had faced fierce criticism from Democratic allies on Capitol Hill.
President Joe Biden signed a memorandum to increase the maximum number of refugees allowed in the United States this fiscal year to 62,500.
His government had first said in February that he wanted the limit on that number, but in mid-April, Biden stepped back and decided to leave a Trump-era limit of 15,000.
Last month, when the president said he would leave the historically low limit in place, he faced harsh criticism from Democratic Capitol allies and refugee resettlement agencies across the country.
The rebound prompted the White House to promise to increase the cap in the coming weeks, and on Monday Biden said he was back to square one: 62,500 in the current fiscal year, which runs until the end of September.
Government officials blamed the situation on the southern border of the United States for oppressive agencies and resources, although refugee advocates argued that the system of detaining unaccompanied minors was different from that used to deal with refugees, many of whom had already been fully examined and awaited flights to the US
The White House also blamed the broken state of the country’s refugee resettlement system after four years of deep cuts by former President Donald Trump, but the resettlement agencies themselves said the 62,500 cap is possible, especially with federal aid.
These agencies celebrated the turnaround on Monday. Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of the largest US agencies, said in a statement to ABC News: “Today, we breathe a sigh of relief for our refugee brothers who are still in danger, and for the thousands of families that have been forced to delay reunification for years. “
But Biden also sought to moderate expectations, saying: “The sad truth is that we will not reach 62,500 admissions this year.”
He also seemed to hit the brakes for next year, when he promised to raise the refugee limit to the highest level in the program’s more than 40-year history. In February, Biden signed an executive order that promised to admit 125,000 refugees annually starting next fiscal year.
This new limit “would reinforce efforts already underway to expand the United States’ capacity to admit refugees, so that we can reach the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions that I intend to set for the next fiscal year,” Biden said in his statement Monday. -fair.
“That objective will still be difficult to achieve,” he added. “We may not succeed in the first year.”
But for the more than 30,000 refugees abroad who have already been examined and awaiting resettlement in the U.S., the news of a new upper limit has been very welcome after a few confusing and disheartening weeks.
“When America receives refugees, it is the best in America, building on its distinctive tradition and long-standing values of providing refuge for those fleeing violence and political persecution. We welcome the President’s recognition of these long-standing values.” , said David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, another major resettlement agency.
There are about 26 million refugees worldwide, according to the UN refugee agency, out of nearly 80 million displaced people globally – a high historical level of displacement amid various ongoing conflicts and climate change.