A year in, Biden hasn’t fulfilled promise to repair refugee resettlement program

By John Knefel, Truthout

On June 20, 2020, World Refugee Day, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden made his most sweeping statement to date on how his administration would differ from his predecessor’s on the rights of migrants. Gone would be the “xenophobia and racism” that were “the unabashed tenets of Trump’s refugee and immigration policy.” Biden pledged to increase the cap on refugees allowed into the United States to 125,000 in his first year in office, and to restore “America’s historic role as leader in resettlement and defending the rights of refugees everywhere.”

His first year did not go as promised.

In the fiscal year ending in October 2021, the United States only resettled 11,411 refugees through regular channels. That’s 400 fewer than the previous fiscal year — which itself saw historically low resettlement — and far short of the 62,500 that Biden eventually ordered to be allowed to resettle in the United States in his first year in office. The U.S. has only released data for the first month of the new fiscal year, which shows 401 refugees have been resettled. Biden did finally raise the cap to 125,000, which, if met by the end of September 2022, would represent a massive turnaround not just over previous years, but of the last two decades: The last time the U.S. resettled more than 100,000 refugees was in 1994.

A girl holds a young child in a refugee camp
Photo by James Gordon

An additional 40,000 Afghans were temporarily allowed into the United States under a program called humanitarian parole, though they have not been issued green cards, and in most cases, their status expires in a year or two. Roughly 30,000 Afghans still housed on military bases are waiting to be allowed into the United States.

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