Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. He can be reached on [email protected]
U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday raised the refugee admissions cap for this year from 15,000 to 62,500, with Africa getting the biggest share of 22,000.
East Asia got 6,000, Europe and Central Asia received 4,000, Latin America got 5,000, Near East and South Asia got 13,000 and unallocated reserve got at 12,500.
In a statement, President Biden wrote, “Today, I am revising the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year. This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees. The new admissions cap will also reinforce efforts that are 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 coming fiscal year.
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“It is important to take this action today to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much, and who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin.
“The United States Refugee Admissions Program embodies America’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable, and to stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge to the world. It’s a statement about who we are, and who we want to be. So we are going to rebuild what has been broken and push hard to complete the rigorous screening process for those refugees already in the pipeline for admission.
“The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year. We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway. We have reopened the program to new refugees. And by changing the regional allocations last month, we have already increased the number of refugees ready for departure to the United States.
“The budget that I have submitted to Congress also reflects my commitment to the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions in the first fiscal year of my presidency. That goal will still be hard to hit. We might not make it the first year. But we are going to use every tool available to help these fully-vetted refugees fleeing horrific conditions in their home countries. This will reassert American leadership and American values when it comes to refugee admissions.”
Read below Emergency Presidential Determination on Refugee by President Biden
Admissions for Fiscal Year 2021
In Executive Order 14013 of February 4, 2021 (Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration), I directed numerous actions to rebuild, expand, and improve the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). On February 12, 2021, the Department of State submitted a report to certain congressional committees and, with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services, consulted with the Congress regarding a proposal to re-allocate admissions among refugees of humanitarian concern and to increase Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 refugee admissions from 15,000 refugees to 62,500 refugees due to an unforeseen emergency refugee situation in countries around the globe since the signing of Presidential Determination 2021-02 on October 27, 2020 (Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2021) (PD 2021-02).
In Presidential Determination 2021-05 of April 16, 2021 (Emergency Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2021) (PD 2021-05), I changed the allocation of admissions in PD 2021-02 based on a determination that new allocations were necessary to respond to the unforeseen emergency refugee situation. Based on this change, USRAP partners are beginning travel preparations for more than 2,000 refugees who were excluded under PD 2021-02, but who can now be admitted to the United States.
In PD 2021-05, I did not change the pre-existing number of refugee admissions permitted for FY 2021, which remained at 15,000. I also stated that I would consider raising the worldwide refugee admissions ceiling before the end of FY 2021, should the pre-existing level be reached and the emergency refugee situation persist. When I signed PD 2021-05, my intent was to adjust only the allocation of admissions and to address the appropriate number of refugees in a separate determination. Upon additional briefing and a more comprehensive presentation regarding the capacity of the executive departments and agencies charged with administering USRAP to increase refugee admissions while responding to other demands, and given the ongoing unforeseen emergency refugee situation, I now determine, consistent with my Administration’s prior consultation with the Congress, that raising the number of admissions permissible for FY 2021 to 62,500 is justified by grave humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest.
The number of refugee admissions authorized by this determination under section 207(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1157(b)) sends the important message that the United States remains a safe harbor for some of the most vulnerable people in the world. This number also sets a goal for USRAP and the non-governmental and international organizations with whom USRAP partners to resettle refugees. Given the gravity of the global refugee crisis, the number of authorized refugee admissions must be ambitious enough to challenge the United States Government and its partners to build their capacity to serve more refugees. In my judgment, a refugee admissions determination of 62,500 reflects these values, is justified by grave humanitarian concerns, and is otherwise in the national interest of the United States.
The FY 2021 allocations set forth in section (b) of PD 2021-05 are adjusted as follows:
Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22,000
East Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,000
Europe and Central Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,000
Latin America and the Caribbean . . . . . . . . 5,000
Near East and South Asia . . . . . . . . . . . 13,000
Unallocated Reserve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12,500
The provisions of PD 2021-05 are retained, except to the extent superseded by this determination.
You are authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.