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Press Release

New IRC analysis reveals urgency in Biden Administration raising the refugee admissions cap to 62,500

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Today, the International Rescue Committee released a new analysis sparking urgency in President Biden raising the refugee admissions cap to 62,500, lest the program and refugees around the world face further harm. The fact sheet also provides clear steps the Administration can take now to support the program for decades. 

Nazanin Ash, the International Rescue Committee’s Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, said, “What these facts demonstrate is that nothing has changed about the grave humanitarian crises and US interests at stake to justify a retreat from the Administration’s resettlement goal of 62,500 refugee as reported to Congress. This aspirational goal is part of critical additional steps that can be taken now to shore up the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for years to come.” 

Immediate causes for raising the refugee cap, explained in the fact sheet, include: 

  • The grave humanitarian concerns that justify an immediate raising of the cap: The Biden Administration proposed in February to increase FY 2021 refugee admissions to a level of 62,500 on the basis of “new political violence, humanitarian crises, and growing threats to refugees.” Nothing has changed about these grave concerns to justify a retreat from 62,500. Today there are an estimated 1.4 million refugees in need of resettlement globally, while global resettlement slots have dropped by 50 percent over the last four years. The refugee population grew by 7 million over the course of the Trump administration to nearly 30 million worldwide. The Biden administration’s commitment to reverse course and set an ambitious refugee admissions goal provided a lifeline to refugees in precarious situations and signaled a return to global cooperation on refugees.
  • The U.S. national interest in refugee resettlement: A U.S. retreat from resettlement has profound implications for America’s foreign policy, national security interests, and global stability. It is also a key way to show solidarity with those fleeing persecution. The program strengthens the U.S. economy: refugees fill critical gaps in the labor market and have high rates of entrepreneurship, creating jobs and boosting local economies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many refugees are working on the front lines and in essential jobs.
  • The capacity for the US government to increase the admissions goal, and the capacity of resettlement agencies to receive refugees: The program is also part of a critical promise to protect U.S. allies in Iraq and Afghanistan from a lifetime of fear, or even death, by offering them safety in the U.S. The Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programs and Iraqi Direct Access (Priority-2) admissions are crucial ways for the U.S. to ensure the effectiveness of military, diplomatic, and intelligence operations abroad and safeguard U.S. troops. With 100,000 Iraqi applicants stuck in processing, the U.S. is abandoning our allies and threatening its credibility with key partners in the region.
  • How an admissions level of 15,000 locks out thousands of refugees who could be readied for resettlement this fiscal year.

The IRC’s new analysis also proposes ways to strengthen the US refugee admissions program today. These include setting ambitious refugee admissions goals; unlocking resources to support capacity building of the program; expediting the inter-agency review of refugee processing and vetting; establishing a public-private task force to examine program barriers and advance solutions; and increasing consistent public reporting for transparency, accountability, and operational benefit. 

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.