Responding to criticism from Democrats and human rights activists, the US government on Friday (16) withdrew from maintaining the limit on the number of refugees who can enter the country – in another chapter of the crisis the immigration facing Joe Biden’s management.
The White House had said the president would sign an executive order to maintain the quota of 15,000 foreigners seeking refuge, the same number set by former President Donald Trump and the lowest since the country’s refugee program was created in 1980. .
But the subscription was suspended and White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in the afternoon that Biden would set a new final limit by May 15. She did not give the figure, but said it should be lower than the 62,500 promised by the Democratic administration in February.
“Given the decimated refugee admission program we inherited and the burden of the refugee resettlement office, its initial target of 62,500 seems unlikely,” he said.
Upon leaving the White House, former President Barack Obama stipulated that up to 110,000 people could be accommodated in 2017. In the years since, Trump has gradually reduced the number and reached the limit of 15,000 under the framework. of its anti-immigration program.
Despite maintaining the same number of vacancies, Biden would expand the list of countries eligible for asylum claims. The Republican’s agenda had prioritized Iraqis who worked for the US military, especially Christians, who face religious persecution.
With the new plan, the government would welcome refugees based on the region they are fleeing from – reverting to the system used before Trump’s changes.
The 15,000 asylum applications would be distributed as follows: 7,000 for Africa, 1,000 for East Asia, 1,500 for Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 for Latin America and the Caribbean, 1,500 for East and South Asia. There would be 1,000 left for the other groups.
The decision comes and goes as the United States faces a surge in the number of immigrants trying to enter illegally. In February alone, 100,441 people were arrested or deported at the border with Mexico, according to data from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This number represents the highest monthly total since the U.S. border crisis in 2019.
Although the situation at the United States border is different from that of the refugee program, there are growing concerns that the increase in the number of border crossings is already weighing on the refugee sector of the Department of Health and Human Rights. Social services.
Maintaining the Trump-era admission level would leave thousands of refugees who were allowed to travel to the United States trapped in camps across the world.
While those on American soil have the legal right to seek asylum and may potentially appear before an immigration judge, refugees seeking protection abroad are forced to undergo different levels of screening that can often take years.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said earlier Friday that the United States must “rebuild its refugee resettlement program.” “We will use the 15,000 vacancies and work with Congress to increase admissions and get back to the numbers we pledged to,” he wrote on his social media.