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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Disappointed by President Biden Using Trump’s Limit on Refugee Admissions
April 16, 2021

Human Rights First Disappointed by President Biden Using Trump’s Limit on Refugee Admissions

WASHINGTON -- Today, the Biden administration announced it would keep the refugee admissions number at 15,000, a level set by the previous administration, walking back an announcement made in February to raise admissions for FY2021 to more than 60,000 refugees. Human Rights First is disappointed by this broken promise, a move that seems to have inexplicably sacrificed refugee protection in the face of predictable political fear-mongering of children and families seeking protection at the southern border. At the same time, we welcome the president's step to end the existing discriminatory quotas on the number of refugees who can be resettled from certain countries, also announced today.

“The failure to uphold our values and restore U.S. leadership on refugee protection is a disappointing miscalculation and only serves to bolster the xenophobic rhetoric of the last administration,” said Eleanor Acer, Refugee Protection Director at Human Rights First. “As the administration certainly knows, the United States has the ability to both increase resettlement and uphold its asylum commitments at the border; not doing so means that America’s beacon of safety for refugees and asylum seekers remains dark. It’s also disingenuous for this administration to say it is pursuing 'other legal pathways' for Central American refugees to come to the United States while maintaining its shutdown of asylum at the border and leaving the limit for refugee admissions at the lowest level in history.”

As a candidate for the office he now holds, President Biden repeatedly said his administration would increase the number of refugees we welcome into the country:

  • His campaign said: “He will set the annual global refugee admissions cap to 125,000, and seek to raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values, and the unprecedented global need.”
  • “On World Refugee Day in 2020, then-candidate Joe Biden committed to restoring the U.S.’s legacy of welcome by raising the refugee admissions target to 125,000. He also promised to work with Congress to ensure the U.S. admits a minimum of 95,000 refugees each year.”

“We hope that today’s news is the last of the broken promises on refugee admissions,” said Acer. “We call on Congress to pass the GRACE Act, taking the power to determine the fate of refugees to be resettled in the United States out of the hands of the executive.”