"In the morning we said, and it was actually in the information we put out, was once we reach 15,000, we will raise it".
"Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely", Psaki said, making a reference to the border crisis and the surge of unaccompanied children and the proposal by Biden's State Department to accept 62,500 refugees for the current fiscal year.
After golfing in DE on Saturday, the press asked Biden about the USA refugee cap, which made headlines this week when there were reports that the number would remain the same as the Trump administration.
Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, said evangelical Christians' commitment to refugees "is rooted in the biblical belief that each of these individuals is a person made in the image of God with inherent dignity, whose lives are worth protecting".
"I'm still just a little bit confused about what changed between 1 p.m. on Friday and 4:30 p.m. on Friday to go from 'We're not raising the refugee cap, ' to 'We are raising it by May 15, '" Fisher said.
Yet, a senior administration official shared with the Hill that Biden's order was an improvement that "is needed to offer protection to vulnerable refugees who could not access the program under the previous one".
Following the criticism, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden's original announcement had been "the subject of some confusion" and said the president was expected to increase the refugee cap by May 15.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to ABC and said refugee holding centers are in awful condition, and Biden officials did not see how raising the cap limit would help.
According to the most recent data, as of April 2021, the USA has resettled just over 2,000 refugees since the current fiscal year began on October 1.
Now, however, the White House says that the influx of unaccompanied minors on the southern border has made it hard for them to raise the number at all.
Biden sent a plan to Congress, as required by law, two months ago to raise the refugee ceiling to 62,500.
"It is a factor", said Psaki, noting that the Office of Refugee Resettlement "has personnel working on both issues and so we have to ensure that there is capacity and ability to manage both". "Let's be clear. We are changing the policies of the last administration".
Secretary of State Antony Blinken notified Congress on February 12 of a plan to raise the ceiling on admissions to 62,500, but no presidential determination followed.
Salguero noted, however, that months after informing Congress of "an 'emergency' need to raise the refugee ceiling to 62,500 for the remainder of the federal fiscal year, the ceiling remains at the historically low level of 15,000". Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said that Biden slow walking a decision "has had serious repercussions" - potentially leading to even fewer than 15,000 refugees being admitted this fiscal year. Trump limited most spots to people fleeing religious persecution, Iraqis who have assisted US forces there, and people from Central America's Northern Triangle.
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.
The move triggered a backlash from Democratic lawmakers and resettlement agencies.
Trump limited most spots to people fleeing religious persecution, Iraqis who have assisted USA forces there, and people from Central America's Northern Triangle.