Biden to raise refugee quota

Biden to raise refugee quota

President-elect Joe Biden announced he will raise the refugee quota into the United States to 125,000 in his first year in office.

This is a stark change from President Donald Trump’s steep cuts to the U.S. refugee program during his presidency.

Biden made the announcement on Nov. 12 to a Catholic group that works with refugees.

“The United States has long stood as a beacon of hope for the downtrodden and the oppressed, a leader of resettling refugees in our humanitarian response,” Biden said. He made the statement during the virtual event celebrating the 40th anniversary of Jesuit Refugee Service.

“I promise, as president, I will reclaim that proud legacy for our country. The Biden-Harris administration will restore America’s historic role in protecting the vulnerable and defending the rights of refugees everywhere and raising our annual refugee admission target to 125,000.”

Biden praised Jesuit Refugee Service as a “great organization” and framed the country’s historic commitment to refugee resettlement in theological terms.

“This organization was founded to serve the needs of some of the most vulnerable among us: refugees and displaced people. JRS believes that, in the stranger, we actually meet our neighbor. And that every society is ultimately judged by how we treat those most in need,” he said.

Jesuit Refugee Service is an international Catholic organization committed to serving refugees and other forcibly displaced people.

That work includes advocating for refugees, serving as chaplains to those in detention and supporting other projects and programming around the globe.

Faith-based organizations, like Jesuit Refugee Service, have long played an essential role in refugee resettlement work in the U.S.

Six of the nine agencies tasked with resettlement by the federal government are faith-based.

They include Church World Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, HIAS (founded as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and World Relief.

Trump has set the refugee ceiling, to a new historic low every year he has been in office.

Former President Barack Obama increased the quota to 110,000 his last year in office. Trump recently put it at 15,000 for the current fiscal year, which started in October.

The agencies’ budgets are based on the number of refugees admitted. Due to the reduction in refugee numbers, government funding has been decimated. This has led to agencies having to shutter or scale back offices and lay off workers.

If Biden does raise the refugee quota, those budgets would increase.

There are now more than 120,000 refugees in the pipeline. They need to pass rigorous security and medical checks, a process taking months and sometimes years.

Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute is concerned Congress may not have the appetite to take on immigration policy amid the coronavirus pandemic and an economic recession.

“For the first 100 days, there will be very little bandwidth for a Biden administration to deal with anything other than COVID. We have never faced a crisis like this before,” Chishti says. “We can’t expect a huge leap on immigration policy. If people expect that this is going to happen tomorrow, they will be in for a big disappointment.”


Religion News Service


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