Dozens of House Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to make good on a campaign promise to lift the cap on refugee admissions into the United States.
The White House announced in February that it would raise the limit imposed by former President Donald Trump, but Biden still hasn’t signed the necessary paperwork to make it official. The policy has left hundreds of refugees fleeing war and political turmoil around the world in limbo. Top Democrats on Capitol Hill are unsure about the reason for the delay.
“Having fought for four years against the Trump Administration’s full-scale assault on refugee resettlement in the United States, we were relieved to see you commit to increasing our refugee resettlement numbers so early in your Administration,” Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter on Friday. “But until the Emergency Presidential Determination is finalized, our refugee policy remains unacceptably draconian and discriminatory.”
The letter was signed by Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), a former refugee from Somalia, Pramila Jayapal (Mich.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), and dozens of other House Democrats.
Later Friday morning, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: “I expect we’ll have some more news on this today. Stay tuned.”
Biden is on pace to accept the fewest refugees of any modern president, including Trump, according to a new report. (Halfway through this fiscal year, only 2,050 refugees have resettled in the U.S.) He could change that with the flick of a pen.
White House officials have repeatedly said that Biden is committed to lifting the cap on admissions. But they have failed to provide an actual explanation for continuing Trump’s refugee policy.
According to CNN, Biden has resisted lifting the cap because of “political optics.” His administration has faced heat from Republicans over its handling of the growing influx of migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border. GOP lawmakers claim Biden’s immigration policies have directly contributed to thousands of people, including many children, attempting to enter the U.S. from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
But, as CNN notes, the “southern border is separate from the refugee program, which dates back decades and has a thorough vetting process in place for refugees overseas to resettle in the US.” Indeed, many of the refugees who were approved and booked to arrive in the U.S. and who had their flights canceled at the last minute spent years undergoing the vetting process.
Read House Democrats’ letter to Biden: