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US sets refugee admission target at 125,000

  • 28 Sep 2022

The largest number of slots — 40,000 — is set aside for refugees from Africa, followed by 35,000 from South Asia and 15,000 each from East Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Refugee advocates have been pushing the Biden administration to do more to restore the US Refugee Admissions Program. ( AP Archive )

President Joe Biden has kept the nation's cap on refugee admissions at 125,000 for the 2023 budget year, despite pressure from advocates to raise it even higher to meet the need after falling far short of that target this year.

The 125,000 target "is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest," Biden stated on Tuesday in his presidential determination.

Historically, the average has been 95,000 under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Biden earmarked 5,000 more slots for people from Europe and Central Asia for the 2023 budget year, making room to accommodate those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

The largest number of slots — 40,000 — was set aside for refugees from Africa, followed by 35,000 from South Asia and 15,000 each from East Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Refugees advocates have been pushing the Biden administration to do more to restore the US Refugee Admissions Program.

The more than four-decade-old programme suffered deep cuts under the Trump administration, which slashed admissions to a record low of 15,000.

Biden raised the cap to four times that amount, but so far fewer than 20,000 refugees have been admitted this budget year, which ends September 30.

That number excludes the roughly 180,000 Ukrainians and Afghans who came to the United States via a legal process called humanitarian parole that got them into the country more quickly than the traditional refugee programme but only allows for stays of up to two years.

'Strengthening the programme'

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that "this ambitious target demonstrates that the United States is committed to rebuilding and strengthening the US Refugee Admissions Program" through various means.

He pointed to plans for a pilot programme that is expected to get underway by the end of the year that will allow regular Americans to sign up to resettle refugees in their communities, much like US citizens did in stepping up to help Afghans and Ukrainians over the past year.

Traditionally refugees are placed in communities by nine refugee resettlement agencies.

“Our refugee admissions program embodies the best of American values and the will to help those in need, and it will continue to provide access to resettlement as a lifesaving, durable solution," Blinken said.

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