April 16, 2021 1:33 PM

President Biden Delays Key Campaign Promise on Refugee Resettlement

For immediate release
April 16, 2021

President Biden Delays Key Campaign Promise on Refugee Resettlement; Refugee Leaders Express Outrage and Disappointment

WASHINGTON- Today, President Joe Biden signed an emergency determination speeding up refugee resettlement, but declined to fulfill a key campaign promise to restore the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program after the Trump administration gutted the program to historic lows that have unfairly kept refugees from resettling to the United States and joining their relatives and loved ones. The nationwide Opportunity for All campaign and refugee leaders across the country urge the Biden administration to restore our nation's role as a place of refuge as soon as possible and honor its commitment to international human rights by issuing a Presidential Determination (PD) and setting refugee resettlement at 125,000 refugees per year.

On April 6th, more than 260 former refugee leaders sent a letter to President Biden calling on him to make good on his commitment to lift the refugee admissions cap by immediately issuing an Emergency Fiscal Year 2021 Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions of 62,500 people. President Biden presented the plan to Congress two months ago, but today kept the low numbers from the previous administration. After swift condemnation from key Congressional leaders and advocates, President Biden pledged, within hours of Friday’s emergency determination, to increase the refugee resettlement numbers next month.

The Biden administration’s refusal to lift Trump-era cutbacks of the refugee resettlement program thus far has left families separated and refugees stranded, with more than 700 flights to date canceled for families who have been fully vetted and approved to resettle here. 

My heart and thoughts go to all refugees around the world who are forced to wait another month for the administration to act. As a former refugee, I truly understand how disturbing this kind of news can affect the mental state of individuals already in the process of resettlement, particularly to those coming to the U.S. I urge the Biden Administration to honor his promise to the refugee community as soon as possible,” said Jacqueline Kifuko, Refugee Organizer with Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS)

"We are devastated that Biden continues to delay his promise to all the refugees fearing for their lives. The U.S. has a duty to provide refuge for those fleeing religious or political persecution and war-torn countries. This is unacceptable,” added Anahita Panahi who is the Opportunity for All campaign co-chair.

"I am devastated by Biden’s delay in fulfilling his promise. As a former refugee and a refugee organizer that turned out many former refugees to go out and vote this past election, I am extremely disappointed by this administration’s decision to delay the Presidential Determination. This is truly a blow to my community that envisioned this would be an administration to reverse the policies of the previous administration that pushed to limit immigration,” added Kayo Beshir, Refugee Organizer at the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Coalition (TIRRC). 

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The Opportunity for All campaign, led by refugees and immigrants, is spearheaded by We Are All America, a refugee organizing alliance housed under the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). The campaign seeks to shift social, political, and economic conditions so that refugees and other new arrivals can achieve their full potential and ensure that the United States remains a nation of opportunity for those seeking freedom, safety, and refuge.