Biden Seeks to Increase the Annual Refugee Cap

The Biden administration plans to raise the refugee cap for FY 2022

The Biden administration plans to raise the refugee cap for FY 2022

On Monday, October 4, the Biden administration sent a 44-page proposal to Congress, asking for approval to raise the refugee cap to 125,000 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, which began on October 1.

It is worth explaining that refugee status is available to foreign nationals seeking international protection from outside the US and who are trying to flee precarious and risky situations such as persecution due to their religion, race, sexual orientation, political opinion, inter alia.

According to Biden’s proposal, spots available for refugees would be distributed as follows:

  • 35,000 for the Near East and South Asia.
  • 15,000 for East Asia.
  • 40,000 for Africa.
  • 15,000 for Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • 10,000 for Europe and Central Asia.
  • 10,000 for unallocated locations.

Adding to that, the Biden administration explained that it would focus primarily on:

  • Central American citizens fleeing violence.
  • Foreigners belonging to the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community.
  • Afghan refugees who served in organizations located in the US.
  • Uyghurs (members of a Muslim ethnic group from Turkey).
  • Refugees from Myanmar (Burma).
  • Dissidents from Hong Kong.

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Biden would keep his promise if he succeeds in raising the annual refugee cap

Even before winning the November 2020 election, President Joe Biden promised to increase the annual refugee limit to honor the US’ values and welcome the most vulnerable immigrant communities.

Thus, if Congress gives the green light to his proposal, the Biden administration would fulfill its promise to open the doors to more refugees, who, in its view, also become a pillar for the local workforce and the national economy in both the short and long term.

It is important to explain that the Biden administration’s proposed limit (125,000) is the highest in recent history of the US, since the early 1990s, even higher than under the Obama administration, which admitted 100,000 refugees per year.

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A prominent change from the previous administration

If the Biden administration succeeds in opening 125,000 refugee slots during FY 2022, it would substantially change the government’s approach to this humanitarian program compared to what happened under the Trump administration between 2017 and early 2021.

To better understand the context, it is important to mention that the Trump administration only admitted 18,000 refugees in FY 2020 and set the lowest refugee cap in recent history of the US in FY 2021, 15,000 refugees.

Adding to that, despite the Biden administration raising the refugee cap for the remainder of FY 2021 to 62,500 in May, the US processed only slightly more than 11,000 asylum claims during FY 2021.

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