Biden set to accept more refugees after years of Trump restrictions

Steve Holland and Ted Hesson, Reuters

Posted at Feb 05 2021 06:06 AM

Biden set to accept more refugees after years of Trump restrictions 1

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Joe Biden will seek to raise annual refugee admissions to 125,000 in the coming fiscal year, he said on Thursday, a more than eight-fold increase after former President Donald Trump slashed levels to historic lows.

Speaking at the U.S. State Department, Biden also said he would approve an executive order on Thursday to build up the country's capacity to accept refugees in the face of "unprecedented global need."

Biden has pledged to restore the United States' historic role as a country that welcomes refugees from around the world after four years of cuts to admissions under former U.S. President Donald Trump. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are 1.4 million refugees worldwide in urgent need of resettlement.

During his presidency, Trump portrayed refugees as a security threat and a drain on U.S. communities as he took a series of measures to restrict legal immigration. Biden is confronting a refugee program hobbled by Trump's policies, which led to the closure of resettlement offices and disrupted the pipeline of refugees to the United States, a situation exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden said the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions - up from 15,000 this year under Trump - would be for the coming fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1, 2021.

"It's going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged," Biden said. "But that's precisely what we're going to do."

In an executive order, Biden is expected to call on U.S. agencies to take steps to speed up refugee processing and to highlight the role of climate change in the displacement of people around the world, according to two people familiar with the planning.

Biden is also expected to rescind a 2019 Trump order that required states and localities to consent to receive refugees, they said. 

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Steve Holland and Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Franklin Paul and Aurora Ellis)


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