New analysis by the International Rescue Committee reveals that midway through the 2021 fiscal year, only 2,050 refugees have been admitted to the United States, a new historical low despite promises by the Biden administration to immediately increase the number of refugees allowed to resettle into the United States. 

President Biden’s delay in issuing the Presidential Determination has prevented tens of thousands of already-cleared refugees from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East from resettling in the US, with over 700 refugees’ flights from some of the world’s toughest crisis zones cancelled as a result. If the President does not take immediate action to implement his revised refugee policy, an estimated 5,000 refugees will be admitted this fiscal year — less than half the number admitted under the Trump Administration last year. This would be the lowest number of any US president in history.

At the FY21 mid-year mark, the US Refugee Admissions Program, functioning under the purposefully-restrictive rules and discriminatory admissions categories left behind by the previous Administration, leaves thousands in harm’s way.

Over 30,000 refugees who have already passed security reviews to receive conditional approval from the U.S. Government remain barred from admission by the Trump Administration’s discriminatory categories for refugee admissions and arbitrary cap of just 15,000 refugees. As refugee leaders wrote to the Administration, many are families waiting to be reunited with relatives in the United States after years of waiting.

Nazanin Ash, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, International Rescue Committee, said: “Each day that the Trump administration’s restrictive and discriminatory categories and all-time low refugee admissions ceiling of 15,000 individuals remains in place is another day that families remain separated and the most vulnerable people are stuck in uncertainty. With Trump Administration policies still in place, President Biden is on track to admit the lowest number of refugees of any president ever to take office since the creation of the modern-day refugee resettlement program in 1980. 

“Each day that the Trump administration's refugee policy remains in effect is also another day in which the Biden Administration’s quick work to dismantle discriminatory travel bans remains unfinished. The current restrictive and discriminatory categories amount to a near-total ban on Muslim refugees and most refugees from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. 

“The refugee admissions program has a proud bipartisan history and a legacy of success in the US. The American public believes, by wide margins, that the US should be a place of refuge for those seeking safety from violence and persecution. President Biden affirmed this history and these values in his early executive actions and in his emergency proposal on refugee admissions to Congress. We ask that President Biden act swiftly to enact the FY21 admissions goal at 62,500 and remove the previous administration’s restrictive, discriminatory, and arbitrary admissions categories.” 

On February 12th, 2021, the Administration proposed and bipartisan members of Congress affirmed an emergency revision to the Trump Administration’s arbitrary, restrictive, and discriminatory refugee admissions policy, arguing that “To respond to all of these unforeseen and urgent situations, a revised target of 62,500 is proposed and is justified by grave humanitarian concerns and is in the national interest.” Eight weeks later, President Biden still has not issued his revised US refugee admissions goal.