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Biden administration seeks to raise US refugee cap to 125,000




US President Joe Biden disembarks from Marine One upon his return from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, to the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, United States, September 20, 2021. REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz

WASHINGTON, Sept.20 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration wants to nearly double the number of refugees admitted to the United States to 125,000 in the next fiscal year starting Oct. 1, in line with a campaign pledge, according to a State Department press release.

The State Department will consult with the Department of Homeland Security and Congress to lift the cap, which has been set at 62,500 for the 2020 fiscal year ending this month, the statement said.

The plan to dramatically increase refugee admissions comes at a time when tens of thousands of Afghan refugees are on U.S. military bases awaiting resettlement in the United States. Many still at risk have been left behind in the chaotic final days of the withdrawal of US forces.

Biden, a Democrat who took office in January, has vowed to back down after his predecessor, Republican President Donald Trump, reduced the refugee ceiling to just 15,000, the lowest level in the history of the modern refugee program.

Biden initially left that level in place, but backed down in the face of criticism from immigration advocates.

Biden struggled with mixed messages on immigration. Arrests on the US-Mexico border have peaked in 20 years, and more recently thousands of migrants, mostly Haitians, have set up a makeshift encampment under an international bridge in South Texas.

The refugee program is separate from the asylum system, as refugees typically seek relief overseas, are vetted, and then given legal status and resources to settle in the United States.

Asylum seekers can go to border officials and claim fear of return, triggering lengthy US legal proceedings. But since March 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, most border residents have been quickly deported under a public health order without the possibility of applying for asylum.

Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York and Lisa Lambert in Washington DC; additional reporting by Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.




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