President Biden reversed himself on Monday and said he would allow as many as 62,500 refugees to enter the United States in the next six months, eliminating the sharp limits that former President Donald J. Trump had imposed on those seeking refuge from war, violence or natural disasters.
“This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees,” Mr. Biden said in a statement issued by the White House.
The action came about two weeks after Mr. Biden said he would leave Mr. Trump’s limit of 15,000 refugees in place. That announcement drew widespread condemnation from Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill and from refugee advocates who accused the president of reneging on a campaign promise to welcome those in need.
White House officials had insisted that Mr. Biden’s intentions in mid-April were misunderstood. But his decision to increase the refugee limit to 62,500 indicates that he felt pressure to act.
In his statement, Mr. Biden acknowledged that the government was unlikely to resettle 62,500 refugees because of budget and staffing cuts that agencies sustained during Mr. Trump’s administration. Mr. Biden did not say whether the government had already managed to accept the 15,000 refugees allowed by his predecessor.
“The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” he said. “We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”