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Democratic senator rips Biden for keeping Trump's refugee cap
The Senate's top foreign policy Democrat on Friday blasted the White House for maintaining former President Trump's refugee cap, a move that flies in the face of Democrats who have lobbied for a raise in refugee numbers.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) released a letter he'd sent to President Biden earlier in the day warning Biden of the repercussions of not raising the refugee cap, which had been set at 15,000 by Trump.
"By failing to issue a revised Determination, the White House has not only stymied the number of refugees permitted entrance into the United States, but also it has prevented the Department of State from admitting vetted refugees currently waiting in the system who do not fit into the unprecedentedly narrow refugee categories designated by the Trump administration," Menendez wrote in his letter.
The letter's release was a strong rebuff of Biden's decision to maintain the cap at 15,000 for fiscal 2021.
Biden had previously proposed a 62,500 cap for refugee admissions in 2021.
The White House's decision caught Democrats on the Hill off-guard, as pressure had mounted for Biden to reverse a signature Trump-era policy.
"Failing to issue a new Determination undermines your declared purpose 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 U.S. leadership on forced migration," added Menendez, who had been publicly and privately lobbying the president to increase the cap.
Still, Biden's emergency presidential determination will make substantial changes to Trump's earlier determination on refugee admissions for 2021.
While Biden is maintaining Trump's 15,000 refugee limit, those admissions are expected to be quicker under the new policy, and admissions will resume from areas of the globe excluded by Trump.
Those regions include majority-Muslim parts of Africa and the Middle East.
"The United States has a proud, bipartisan tradition of providing refugees protection through resettlement. In this time of great global need, the United States must demonstrate its robust commitment as a nation by resettling the world's most vulnerable refugees," wrote Menendez.
And in his letter, Menendez thanked Biden "for reaffirming last week your commitment to welcoming 125,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2022."