US Falls Way Short on Refugee Admissions

Just 20% of Biden administration's allocated spots were taken
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2022 2:27 AM CDT
Refugee Admissions Miss White House Target by 80%
A large puppet named Little Amal greets students during an appearance at New York's City Hall Sept. 29, 2022. The 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee is on a 17-day blitz through the Big Apple as part of a theater project hoping to raise awareness about immigration.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The Biden administration allocated 125,000 spots for refugees during fiscal year 2022, but ultimately, about 25,400 refugees—20% of the target—were allowed into the US. The White House raised the annual refugee ceiling significantly, following the era of Donald Trump, who lowered the ceiling to record-low levels during his tenure as president. (The refugee tally does not include asylum seekers, Afghan evacuees, or displaced Ukrainians.) But the ceiling is a target, not a requirement, and a State Department official who spoke to CBS News says the Biden administration is struggling to rebuild the resettlement program after those aforementioned record lows, which led to offices being closed and staffers being laid off at the non-governmental organizations that resettle refugees.

During fiscal year 2021, the US resettled just 11,411 refugees; it had allocated 62,500 spots that year. For 2023, the White House has opted to keep the target at 125,000, despite advocates pushing for an even higher target, Al Jazeera reports. "We are going to do everything in our power to welcome as many refugees as we can this year, recognizing that 125,000 remains a very ambitious target and it will take some time to get there," the official who spoke to CBS says. The coronavirus pandemic has added to the difficulties; President Biden just lifted a more than yearlong pause in in-person interviews of refugee applicants in the summer of 2021. Prior to that, the program was suspended entirely for months at the start of the pandemic. (Read more refugees stories.)

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