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Psaki defends administration’s message on refugee ceiling

Earlier this year, the president promised to raise the cap for the next fiscal year to 125,000, and the State Department then notified Congress that its plan for the current fiscal year was to allow 62,500 refugees to reside. resettle in the country.

Psaki claimed on Monday that those numbers were intended to be “lofty goals” and sought to refute the notion that the administration turned around on Friday following the heavy crackdown by supporters and Democrats on Capitol Hill.

“It was always meant to be just the start,” Psaki said at the daily press conference.

“It was not clearly understood,” she said at another point, and argued that she was simply continuing to clarify the administration’s position.

She added that the administration had “every intention” to set a final and increased cap for refugees for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15, as previously announced, and that Biden remained committed to the goal. ultimately to raise the annual ceiling to 125,000 refugees. .

Psaki and other White House officials said the issue was complicated by the fact that the government also had to tackle the number of unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the southern border. Some advocates questioned this explanation, noting that they are dealt with by separate legal processes.

About 35,000 refugees are already allowed to resettle in the United States, which advocates point to as evidence that the number can and should be higher than the limit set under Trump.

Psaki said there were other policies adopted by the previous administration that hindered the resettlement of refugees, and pointed out that Biden was removing Trump-era constraints on the number of refugees who may come from a particular region. .

As a result of Biden’s action, the revised allocations for this fiscal year are 7,000 refugees from Africa, 1,000 from East Asia, 1,500 from Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 1,500 from the Near East and South Asia. A thousand more refugees were not allocated on a regional basis.

“It was always meant to be a first step,” Psaki said.

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