The International Rescue Committee (IRC) welcomes the news today that President Joe Biden will sign an Executive Order (EO) outlining a framework to rebuild the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to be able to take on a refugee admissions cap of 125,000 in fiscal year 2022 and return America to global leadership on refugee protection, allowing refugees unfairly barred by the previous administration to find safety in the United States and families to be reunited.

The measures outlined in this EO establish the principles that will guide the Administration’s plan for rebuilding the USRAP as well as a series of actions to enhance the program’s capacity to fairly, efficiently, and securely process resettlement applications. These actions come at a critical time, amidst the greatest displacement crisis since the Second World War and a global retreat from humanitarian obligations.

The IRC looks forward to President Biden working swiftly with Congress to raise the refugee admission ceiling as soon as possible -- as well as fulfilling his commitment to further raising the admissions goal in FY22 -- and has published a roadmap of necessary reforms needed to restore USRAP and lay the foundations for robust refugee admissions for years to come. This includes but is not limited to unlocking funds for resettlement agencies across the country and USRAP partner organizations to rapidly rebuild to meet the Administration’s bold commitments; expanding opportunities for family reunification; and designing university, community, and employer sponsorship programs that are complementary to resettlement and create safe and regulated protection pathways that harness refugee talent.

Hans van de Weerd, Vice President for Resettlement, Asylum and Integration of the International Rescue Committee, said: “With 80 million forcibly displaced people worldwide and counting -- the largest number since the Second World War -- restoring the US’ longstanding and bipartisan resettlement program is absolutely critical. The US needs to fix its own reputation and incentivize other rich countries by welcoming refugees in greater numbers, after record lows during the Trump administration. In fact, over the past four years, led by the US’ retreat from its global responsibilities and traditions,  refugee resettlement slots amongst wealthy nations decreased by half. 

“At the same time, the groundswell of support for refugees over the past four years has been unwavering: a Pew study found that the number of Americans that believe taking in refugees is an important goal increased from 61 to 73 percent over the past three years, with more than 540 bipartisan elected officials from all 50 states voicing their support for refugee resettlement. The voice of the American people has been unequivocal and acknowledges that refugee communities are and will continue to be a source of strength.

“The IRC looks forward to an immediate increase in the number of refugees welcomed into America this year, an increase of the refugee admissions goal to a minimum of 125,000 in FY22, and continued policies for diplomacy and development that tackle displacement crises at their source.”