Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez ripped President Biden on Friday to maintain a limit of 15,000 refugee admissions for fiscal 2021, warning in a letter that the move “threatens U.S. leadership on forced migration.”
The White House said Friday that Biden would sign an emergency determination to keep the 15,000 refugee cap first imposed by former President Trump in place. The decision marked a reversal from the Biden administration’s proposal in February, which sought to raise the cap to 62,500 this year. But later Friday, Biden reversed himself again, with the White House saying the president would consider lifting the cap by mid-May.
Biden’s move drew criticism from prominent Democrats who have pushed for him to reverse Trump-era refugee entry policies. Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the delay would have “serious repercussions” and called on Biden to enact a refugee cap in line with his original pledge.
“By failing to issue a revised Determination, the White House has not only stymied the number of refugees permitted entrance into the United States, but also it has prevented the Department of State from admitting vetted refugees currently waiting in the system who do not fit into the unprecedentedly narrow refugee categories designated by the Trump administration,” Menendez said.
The emergency presidential determination made some adjustments to Trump-era guidelines, allowing more slots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Central America and ending resettlement restrictions from several other nations. The White House said the changes would help to streamline the entry process for vetted refugees.