Biden: Surge in Illegal Immigration Along Border Is a 'Crisis'

Biden Administration, in Response to Criticism, Says It Will Lift Refugee Cap Next Month

The White House, in a directive issued Friday, stated that it would leave the cap on refugees at 15,000 - an all-time low, which was established by former President Donald Trump.

But Biden, she said, was urged by advisers to "take immediate action to reverse the Trump policy that banned refugees from many key regions, to enable flights from those regions to begin within days; today's order did that".

Doing so puts Biden on track to oversee possibly the lowest number of refugee admissions in the program's near 45-year history, despite his promises to reignite "the United States' moral leadership on refugee issues".

Who will benefit from the increase?

But there will now be more slots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Central America. An exact number has not yet been provided.

The White House defended the decision by pointing to Trump's destruction of the refugee resettlement program, although resettlement agencies rejected that reasoning, and the situation at the southern USA border, which the administration previously spent weeks downplaying. "We couldn't do two things at once, so now we are going to raise the number", he said.

"We're going to increase the number [of refugees]", Biden told reporters.

After Democrats blasted the announcement with unusually fierce criticism of a president from their own party, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Biden's decision "has been the subject of some confusion".

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"It is a factor", Psaki said, adding that the Office of Refugee Resettlement "does management and has personnel working on both issues and so we have to ensure that there is capacity and ability to manage both".

Critics from both sides of the political spectrum had accused the president of bowing to political pressure that has been mounting over the record pace of unaccompanied migrants crossing the U.S. -Mexico border.

Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, an global Jewish humanitarian organization that provides services to refugees and asylum-seekers in 16 countries, said in a statement that Biden had broken his "repeated promises to significantly raise this year's refugee admissions cap".

The New York Times reported that the United States had already vetted around 35,000 refugees, who have applied to cross into the USA from refugee camps around the globe, where they are required to stay while awaiting the U.S. authorities' decision.

President Joe Biden finally admitted on Saturday that there is a crisis at the USA southern border.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to ABC and said refugee holding centers are in bad condition, and Biden officials did not see how raising the cap limit would help. Biden said in the order that the number "remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest".

But resettlement agencies have told ABC News that they could meet Biden's proposed 62,500 cap with help from the administration - something the administration doesn't seem intent on providing.

"Failing to issue a new determination undermines your declared objective to reverse your predecessor's refugee policies and to rebuild the Refugee Admissions Program to a target of 125,000 people in FY22, and threatens US leadership on forced migration", he wrote.

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