Biden to accept more than 100 thousand refugees in the coming fiscal year

Biden to accept more than 100 thousand refugees in the coming fiscal year

Shafaq News/ U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday he plans to raise annual refugee admissions to 125,000 in the coming fiscal year, a more than eight-fold increase after former President Donald Trump slashed levels to historic lows.

Biden also called for dozens of changes to U.S. refugee processing and vetting in a detailed executive order that advocates lauded on Thursday. During a speech at the U.S. State Department, the Democratic president said the order would build up the country’s capacity to accept refugees in the face of “unprecedented global need.”

Biden has pledged to restore the United States’ historic role as a country that welcomes refugees from around the world after four years of cuts to admissions under Trump. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are 1.4 million refugees worldwide in urgent need of resettlement.

During his presidency, Trump portrayed refugees as a security threat and a drain on U.S. communities as he took a series of measures to restrict legal immigration.

Biden said the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions - up from 15,000 this year under Trump - would be for the coming fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1, 2021.

“It’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged,” Biden said. “But that’s precisely what we’re going to do.”

Biden also intends to propose increasing the refugee ceiling for this year following a consultation with Congress, according to a White House fact sheet released on Thursday.

Refugee backers praised Biden’s executive order, which they said would speed up refugee processing and remove barriers that blocked some applicants.

The executive order called for a review of the Special Immigrant Visa program for refugees who aided U.S. interests in Iraq and Afghanistan to determine whether there have been “undue delays” for applicants.

The Trump administration carved out 4,000 spots for Iraqi refugees in its 2020 cap for admissions but only 537 were resettled in the fiscal year, which ended in September.

More than 9,800 Iraqis came to the United States in the 2016 fiscal year before Trump took office.

For its part, the UN Secretary-General welcomed the “positive steps” announced by the new US administration towards migrants and refugees.

“Long a strong advocate for refugees, Mr. Biden has made important commitments to restoring the US refugee resettlement programme and ensuring that human rights and humanitarian values are at the centre of the US asylum system”, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said in a statement.

“We look forward to deepening the strong and trusted partnership with the United States, and to working with the new administration and Congress to address the many challenges of forced displacement around the world”, said the top UN refugee official.

According to the 2020 UN’ World Migration report, The Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey were the origin and host of the largest number of refugees globally, 6.7 million and 3.7 million, respectively. Canada became the largest refugee resettlement country, resettling more refugees than the United States in 2018.

Source: Reuters + United Nations

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