President Joe Biden on Thursday announced his intention to massively increase the cap on annual refugee admissions to the United States, which fell to a historical low under Donald Trump.
In line with a campaign promise, Biden said he would set at 125,000 the cap on admissions as part of the country’s refugee resettlement program, against the current 15,000.
“We offered safe havens for those fleeing violence or persecution” in previous years, when America’s “moral leadership on refugee issues” encouraged other nations to open their doors as well, Biden said.
“So today I’m approving an executive order to begin the hard work of restoring our refugee admissions program to help meet the unprecedented global need,” he added.
“It’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged, but that’s precisely what we’re going to do.”
The United States has an extensive history of welcoming refugees and is one of the world’s largest resettlement nations.
But after nearly 79,000 refugees headed to US shores in 2016, the numbers plunged, with just 6,740 arriving in 2020, according to resettlement data by the United Nations refugee agency.
The executive order “will raise refugee admissions back up to 125,000 persons for the first full fiscal year of the Biden/Harris administration,” which begins October 1, the president said.