New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a growing number of Democratic politicians are calling out President Joe Biden’s administration’s controversial decision to not raise the limit of refugees into the country despite promising to do so during his campaign. On Friday, The New York Times reported that the cap would remain at the historically low number of 15,000 refugees set by the Trump administration. Biden had campaigned on raising the cap to 65,000, but conditions at the border and issues with rebuilding the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the midst of a pandemic have caused the new president to blink:
Even though the migrants at the border go through a separate vetting process than those fleeing persecution overseas, Friday’s directive comes amid growing concerns that the surge of border crossings had already overwhelmed the refugee branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to two senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision-making.
While the administration plans to raise the refugee limit to 125,000 in October, the recent decision is under fire from human rights organizations and even members of Biden’s own party. Never one to shy away from holding Biden accountable, AOC blasted the president for going back on his campaign promise.
“Completely and utterly unacceptable,” AOC tweeted. “Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise. Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong. Keep your promise.”
Completely and utterly unacceptable. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise.
Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong.
Keep your promise. https://t.co/A82xYf1XpR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 16, 2021
Biden’s refusal to raise the refugee cap quickly became a hot topic on Twitter as others criticized the administration for not allowing more refugees into the country:
As a refugee, I know finding a home is a matter of life or death for children around the world.
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. pic.twitter.com/eaxjHCUhrI
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) April 16, 2021
Biden maintaining Stephen Miller’s refugee policy is not something anyone should defend. It’s a disgrace. https://t.co/XFwlrAVjBO
— Adam Serwer 🍝 (@AdamSerwer) April 16, 2021
President Biden promised to restore our humanity. With this, he’s broken that promise.
We can’t turn our back on refugees around the world. The President needs to raise the cap now. https://t.co/d7f1K8eR0p
— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) April 16, 2021
I strongly disagree with the Biden administration’s decision to maintain Trump’s historically low refugee policy.
Raising the refugee resettlement cap is vital for American global leadership and to restore the soul of our nation.⁰
I urge the President to keep his promise. https://t.co/DO24gKIyRh
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) April 16, 2021
None of this makes sense. The refugee program is 100% different than the border, and being somehow tough on refugees is going to earn ZERO goodwill from ANYONE. It is politically nonsensical. https://t.co/0OwOVKThWV
— Aaron Reichlin-Melnick (@ReichlinMelnick) April 16, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attempted to put a positive spin on the situation by reiterating the administration’s commitment to lifting the refugee restrictions. “This is just the beginning,” Psaki tweeted. “This step lifts the restrictions put in place by prior Administration on where refugees can come from. We need to rebuild the resettlement program and we are committed to continuing to increase refugee numbers.”