US keeps target admissions for refugees at 125,000 | Refugees News

The move comes despite pressure from refugee advocates to lift the limit as record numbers of people flee war and persecution.

The United States says it is keeping the cap on refugee admissions at 125,000 for the upcoming financial year.

Tuesday’s announcement comes despite pressure from advocates to allow more refugees to enter, as record numbers of people flee their homes because of war, violence, repression and human rights abuses. permission. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and other emergencies have pushed displacement numbers above the “100 million milestone” this year.

Refugee advocates have pushed the administration of US President Joe Biden to do more to revive the 40-year-old Refugee Admissions Program, which was gutted under the Trump administration when the enrollment fell to a record low of 15,000.

After taking office, Biden quadrupled the number of refugees allowed for the remainder of the 2021 budget year.

He then set a goal of 125,000 for the 2022 budget year, which ends September 30.

But despite increasing numbers and lifting the bureaucratic hurdles set by his predecessor, the Biden administration still struggled to make progress on the program.

To date, less than 20,000 refugees have been received. That number does not include the roughly 180,000 Ukrainians and Afghans who have come to the US through a legal process known as humanitarian parole, which brings them into the country faster than the traditional refugee program but allows only a maximum stay. two years.

Refugees are offered a pathway to permanent residency.

In his presidential resolve, Biden said the 125,000 goal was “justified by humanitarian concerns or in the national interest”. Historically, the average has been 95,000 under Republican and Democratic administrations.

Biden set aside 5,000 more seats for people from Europe and Central Asia in the 2023 budget year, making room for people fleeing the war in Ukraine. The largest number – 40,000 – was intended for refugees from Africa, followed by 35,000 from South Asia and 15,000 each from East Asia, Europe and Latin America.

In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “this ambitious goal demonstrates that the United States is committed to rebuilding and strengthening the American Refugee Admissions Program” through a variety of means. He pointed to plans for a pilot program expected to be implemented later this year that would allow Americans to apply to resettle refugees in their communities, just as American citizens have done. in helping the Afghans and Ukrainians in the past. five.

Traditionally, refugees are brought into communities by nine refugee resettlement agencies.

“Our refugee program embodies the best of American values ​​and our will to help those in need, and it will continue to provide access to resettlement,” Blinken said. as a lasting and life-saving solution”.

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, head of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugees Authority, said the Biden administration must do more to improve its refugee program.

“While humanitarian parole is a valuable means of providing temporary protection to Afghans and Ukrainians, it is not a substitute for full resettlement services and permanent residence that cannot be accommodated. refugee status brings,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter. “As a result of prioritizing amnesty over rebuilding the refugee program, displaced children and families of multiple nationalities continue to languish in years-long backlogs.”

“The Biden administration must see ‘refugee commitments’ this year,” she said.

“It must strengthen and streamline the processing of asylum applications abroad if this lifesaving program is to remain relevant amid an unprecedented global displacement crisis.”

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