Biden has been consulting with his advisers to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1, the end of the fiscal year, Psaki said. "But now we are going to increase the number". In the two months since Biden signed an executive order to reignite the refugee program, hundreds of refugees have been in limbo after their travel to the USA was canceled pending a decision from Biden.
"Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited", Psaki said it was "unlikely" Biden will be able to boost that number to 62,500, as he had proposed in his plan to Congress two months ago.
After golfing in DE on Saturday, the press asked Biden about the US refugee cap, which made headlines this week when there were reports that the number would remain the same as the Trump administration.
Democrats blasted Friday's announcement in unusually strong criticism of a president from their own party. The new allocation will prioritize them, according to the senior administration official, which they say will allow the 15,000 cap to be met more quickly.
Some 35,000 refugees who have already been vetted and cleared for travel to the USA will wait overseas, with over 100,000 more in the pipeline unsure how long they will have to wait as well, according to the International Rescue Committee, a resettlement agency.
Biden had initially allocated 7,000 for refugees from Africa, 1,000 from East Asia, 1,500 from Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 1,500 from the Middle East and South Asia. Stephen Miller, a key architect of Trump's immigration policies, tweeted that keeping Trump's cap "reflects Team Biden's awareness that the border flood will cause record midterm losses".
Biden also plans on lifting Trump's restrictions on resettlements from Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Though the presidential action does not require congressional approval, presidents in the past announced a refugee cap shortly after the notification to Congress.
'And now we're going to increase the numbers, ' Biden said of admitting refugees to the U.S.
Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, an worldwide Jewish humanitarian organization that provides services to refugees and asylum-seekers in 16 countries, said in a statement that Biden had broken his "repeated promises to significantly raise this year's refugee admissions cap".
"This leadership is sorely needed", he said.
Officials had also cited the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons to keep the cap at 15,000, but they added that with vaccination and testing expansions, it would be easier to process new refugee admissions.
FILE - Migrants are detained by a U.S. Border Patrol agent after crossing the Rio Bravo to turn themselves in to request asylum in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, March 29, 2021.
It is unclear what this number will be, but Biden officials have shared concerns that they can not meet the aggressive demands set by Democrats. She wrote a furious letter to Biden on Friday fuming that the country's refugee policy "remains unacceptably draconian and discriminatory", implying a comparison to Trump, who referred to uncontrolled migration flows as a genuine "national threat".