By Lisa Zengarini
President Joe Biden issued a new Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions last week which raises the refugee admissions target to 125,000 for Fiscal Year 2022. This is the highest US annual refugee cap since 1993, confirming Biden’s campaign pledge to reverse President Trump's immigration policies which sought to prevent refugees from settling in the U.S.
Refugee admissions target up to 125,000
During the previous fiscal year, which ended on September 30, the U.S. resettled only 11,411 refugees, the lowest number in the history of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) established in 1980.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which has been consistently advocating for increasing the refugee target and is actively involved in refugee resettlement, has welcomed the decision.
The need to rebuild the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program
“We commend the Administration for seeking to reassert American leadership in this area, and we look forward to continued action in support of this goal”, reads a statement issued on Monday by Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration. “We also urge Congress to provide the resources necessary to not only rebuild the Refugee Admissions Program but sustain it for the next four decades and beyond”.
Vulnerable members of the same human family
Noting that refugees fleeing war, natural disaster, or persecution are “vulnerable members of the same human family” and can make “positive contributions” to the hosting countries, Bishop Dorsonville reminded that Catholics are called “in a special way” to this ministry of welcome and encounter. He also reiterated the U.S. bishops “continued commitment to this work”, praising the many Catholic organizations, communities and individuals dedicated to what Pope Francis has referred to as a “new frontier” for mission.
President Biden’s recent decision is unlikely to affect tens of thousands of Afghans fleeing the Taliban regime in Kabul and the Haitian migrants still camped at the US border with Mexico, as these people are not officially classified as refugees.