White House reconsidering lifting refugee cap to 62,500 after reversal

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The White House is reportedly reconsidering raising the refugee cap after abandoning earlier plans for an increase, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Sources told the Post the White House is again considering raising the refugee cap to 62,500, up from the 15,000 it was cut to under the Trump administration.

The administration initially called for raising the refugee cap to 125,000 by the end of President Biden’s first year in office — a target that would require allowing 62,500 refugees fleeing war and natural disasters to enter the United States. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not dispute the Washington Post report when asked about it on Tuesday but said that it would still be “challenging” to meet a cap of 62,500 refugees.

She noted that the Biden administration inherited a “broken system” from the Trump administration that left Biden and others skeptical of how many refugees the country could accept, but she said it is important for the administration to send the “clear message” that the U.S. is welcoming refugees.

“If the cap is close to that or at that, it will continue to be challenging but there are considerations including the message we are sending to the world and also the need to get the muscles working in the system in the federal government but also with the important partners out there in the United States and around the world that play an important role in refugees traveling to the United States,” Psaki told reporters.

President Biden is set to announce a final decision on the refugee cap by May 15, but earlier this month the White House in a letter to the State Department said it would keep the 15,000 limit set under former President Trump.

After a day of backlash, however, press secretary Jen Psaki walked that back slightly, suggesting only that Biden would be unable to meet his original goal.

“For the past few weeks, he has been consulting with his advisers to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and Oct. 1. Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” Psaki said at the time.

The moving target and the White House’s internal deliberations on the cap come as the White House is under tremendous pressure to address large numbers of migrants seeking to cross the southern border.

Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report which was updated at 4:20 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Jen Psaki Joe Biden refugee cap refugee resettlement cap refugees

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