Under the presidential determination signed by Biden, the United States will offer refugee status to a wider part of the world than had been allowed by Trump by changing the allocation of refugee slots, the senior administration official said.
Biden pledged in February to increase the number of refugees admitted in the next fiscal year to 125,000.
Biden stated in his emergency determination that the admission of up to 15,000 refugees this year "remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest".
The astute acknowledgement of the real reason for the reversal brought praise for the AP from Kessler. "There exists a national network of organizations, churches and state offices who have decades of experience resettling refugees", said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group.
Stephen Miller, an immigration hardliner and White House adviser under Trump, said on Twitter that Biden's decision reflects concern that border issues could lead to losses for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections.
"We offered safe havens for those fleeing violence or persecution" in previous years, when America's "moral leadership on refugee issues" encouraged other nations to open their doors as well, Biden said, promising to make good on his campaign promise of restoring U.S. leadership.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, reacted to the news in a statement saying, "It is simply unacceptable and unconscionable that the Biden administration is not immediately repealing Donald Trump's harmful, xenophobic, and racist refugee cap that cruelly restricts refugee admissions to a historically low level". Trump had blocked many Muslim and African refugees by prioritizing smaller groups of refugees, like Iraqi Christians.
The new allocations provide more slots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Central America and lift Trump's restrictions on resettlements from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
Biden has pledged to raise the refugee cap for the next fiscal year to 125,000 and signalled he would try to make a "down payment" on that this year, but acknowledged it wouldn't be easy.
"If possible, the president can really hear our suffering because we want to come to the nation to find our life, to improve our lives", Majaliwa said.
"It sends an important message to make it higher and now Biden will still be presiding over and has essentially put his stamp of approval on the lowest refugee admissions cap in history at a time of global crisis", said Mark Hetfield, president of HIAS, a Maryland-based Jewish nonprofit that is one of nine agencies that resettles refugees in the U.S.
The argument also seemed to undercut comments made by Psaki earlier this month. However, she did not say what the new limit would be. However, refugees from overseas are processed via a separate system from migrant children seeking asylum.
Refugee advocates said they were disappointed by the news, saying it was unjustified given that there are 35,000 refugees who have already been security vetted and cleared for entry to the United States and that there are 100,000 at various stages in the pipeline. For minors who cross the border unaccompanied, the government separately funds temporary housing in shelters for minors who cross the border, where they must remain until their guardians have been screened. The office's 2020 budget was 1.3 billion dollars.
Increase the number of refugees we welcome into the country. Bob Menendez urged Biden to act. "It is shameful that @POTUS is reneging on a key promise to welcome refugees, moments after @RepSchakowsky @RepJayapal, myself and others called on him to increase the refugee cap".
Christelle Igihozo, a college student in Boise, Idaho, arrived in the United States in 2018, having fled the Republic of Congo with her mother and four siblings when she was a child.
Some 35,000 refugees who have already been vetted and cleared for travel to the USA will wait overseas, with over 100,000 more in the pipeline unsure how long they will have to wait as well, according to the International Rescue Committee, a resettlement agency.