The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds today to the signing of an Emergency Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions, which removes discriminatory admissions categories but maintains the historically low Fiscal Year 2021 admissions goal of 15,000 refugees set by the Trump Administration. 

This represents a disturbing and unjustified retreat from the 62,500 level announced by the Biden Administration in February, that number itself a staging post en route to the campaign commitment of 125,000 refugees. With more than 30,000 refugees who have conditional approval from the US Government and over 100,000 waiting in the pipeline for years to be reunited, a refugee admissions goal of 15,000 leaves thousands of people in limbo and in need of safety. IRC has already warned that at the current rate of admissions, President Biden is on track to resettle the lowest number of refugees of any President in US history, all while US communities, state and local governments and resettlement agencies are ready to welcome refugees and facilitate resettlement across the country.  

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said, “It is deeply disappointing that President Biden has chosen to maintain for the moment the record-low refugee admissions cap of 15,000 set by his predecessor. The rightful erasure of discriminatory admissions categories does not dispense with the need for a higher number of refugees to be admitted. The cap announced today does not take proper account of the fact that over 35,000 refugees have already been vetted and received conditional approval, and over 100,000 are in the pipeline often waiting years to be reunited with their loved ones. This is a time of unprecedented global need, and the US is still far from returning to its historic role of safe haven for the world’s persecuted and most vulnerable. 

“The IRC calls on the Biden Administration to turn the page on retreat from refugee protection after four years of deeply damaging policy and return America to global leadership in this important area. We equally hope the Administration does not abandon its commitment to a refugee admissions goal of 125,000 in FY22, and continued policies for diplomacy and development worldwide that stem violence and instability at their source.  This leadership is sorely needed.”