President Joe Biden on Monday said he would allow as many as 62,500 refugees to enter the United States during the next six months, eliminating the sharp limits that President Donald J. Trump imposed on those seeking refuge from war, violence or natural disasters, reports the New York Times. The move marks an abrupt reversal of his initial decision to leave Trump’s limit of 15,000 refugees in place, which received widespread condemnation from Democrats and refugee advocates. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden promised to restore the country’s reputation for welcoming those seeking safety, saying he would allow as many as 125,000 refugees to enter in his first full year in office. His initial hesitation to allow tens of thousands of additional refugees into the country was a recognition that he was already being criticized for failing to stem the flow of illegal immigration from Central America.
Biden acknowledged that the government was unlikely to reach the limit of 62,500 refugees, blaming budget and staffing cuts during the Trump administration. But he said the decision to raise the limit was necessary “to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world” that the U.S. would help them. It is unclear whether the White House has done anything to address the resource concerns that officials raised last month about the Department of Health and Human Services, but, in his order on Monday, Biden seemed to indicate that he had recently learned that the agencies had adequate resources to raise the ceiling “upon additional briefing” about the capacity for refugee resettlement.