Biden on World Refugee Day: protecting refugees is part of America’s DNA

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on World Refugee Day on Sunday said “protecting refugees is part of our DNA.”

“Protecting refugees is part of our DNA. Our nation was founded by those fleeing religious persecution. When we take action to help refugees around the world, we honor our past and live up to our highest values. We show our greatest strength as a nation,” President Biden said in a statement. “That’s why I revised the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year, and plan to raise it to 125,000 next year.”

The President added that “at a time when the number of refugees and other displaced persons has reached an alarming and historic high—more than 82 million worldwide—the United States has a moral obligation to ensure that refugees have access to life-saving care, opportunities to pursue an education, and livelihoods that allow them to live with dignity and hope for the future.”

Read full statement below

Today, I join people around the globe in commemorating World Refugee Day, a day when we recognize the courage and humanity of the millions forced to flee violence, persecution, and war. It is also a moment to honor the generosity of communities welcoming refugees and the bravery and dedication of humanitarian workers who provide life-saving assistance, often in challenging and dangerous conditions.

At a time when the number of refugees and other displaced persons has reached an alarming and historic high—more than 82 million worldwide—the United States has a moral obligation to ensure that refugees have access to life-saving care, opportunities to pursue an education, and livelihoods that allow them to live with dignity and hope for the future. On this day, we reaffirm our sacred commitment to alleviate suffering through humanitarian relief, and redouble our efforts to achieve lasting solutions for refugees—including through resettlement. We also recommit to engaging in diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the ongoing conflicts that compel refugees to seek safety elsewhere.

Protecting refugees is part of our DNA. Our nation was founded by those fleeing religious persecution. When we take action to help refugees around the world, we honor our past and live up to our highest values. We show our greatest strength as a nation.

We do this because it’s the right thing to do, but make no mistake: helping refugees helps the United States, too, bringing greater regional stability and making the world a safer place for all of us.  

That’s why I revised the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year, and plan to raise it to 125,000 next year. While meeting these targets will be a challenge, I have directed my Administration to work as quickly as possible to rebuild and improve refugee processing and to expand our capacity to admit refugees.  We need to lead by example. And the refugees who arrive at our shores will continue to strengthen our communities, as they always have, bringing new life, energy, and ideas to our great country. The United States is proud to stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge to the world, and whether it’s taking in those seeking safety or providing more humanitarian relief than any other nation, we’re going to do our part. 

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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