US refugee intake cap remains at 125,000
The US will accept up to 125,000 refugees over the next US financial year.
The number represents a continuance of the US’ cap on the refugee intake from the previous year.
A group of Democrat Congress members revealed the move in a recent statement.
Traditionally, the administration consults with Congress on the number.
The cap is the target for how many refugees the United States aims to admit from around the world in any given year, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the US will admit that many.
As of the end of August, the US had admitted only about 51,000 of the possible 125,000 for the current fiscal year.
But refugee advocates have acknowledged that even that figure is a huge increase from where the program was at the end of the Trump administration and have praised government’s efforts to rebuild the program.
The president decides every year on the refugee cap and signs a declaration laying out which regions of the world they will come from.
“The Biden administration is demonstrating its commitment to the United States’ role in protecting vulnerable refugees by maintaining a refugee cap of 125,000 for Fiscal Year 2024,” the statement from the Congress members said.
They also applauded the Biden administration for aiming to resettle more refugees from the Western Hemisphere, but gave no breakdown on those numbers.
For decades, America admitted more refugees each year than all other countries combined but fell behind Canada in 2018.
Admissions under the program hit an all-time low of 11,411 arrivals in 2021.
But this year there has been a rise in the numbers of refugees admitted to the US in the wake of efforts to beef up staffing and make more trips – known as circuit rides – to foreign countries to interview prospective refugees.
In the US, refugee status is different from other types of protection, such as asylum, humanitarian parole or Temporary Protected Status.
To be admitted as refugees, people have to be living outside the US.
They are generally referred to the State Department by the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR and then US officials interview and vet them while they’re still overseas. To seek asylum, a person has to be on US soil.
The decision on next year’s refugee cap comes as the US is seeing unprecedented numbers of migrants coming to the southern border, many hoping to seek asylum.
The Biden administration has used various paths to admit people into the country or allow them to stay once they arrived.
Recently, President Biden extended protection to nearly 500,000 Venezuelans already in the country.
And the administration has admitted tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion and Afghans airlifted from Afghanistan on humanitarian parole.
But advocates have often argued for greater use of the refugee system in large part because it provides people coming into the country with a long-term pathway to citizenship.
People admitted under humanitarian parole, for example, can usually only stay for two years.
Some refugee advocates have been pushing for a slightly higher cap. The Refugee Council USA, which represents nearly 40 groups that advocate for refugees, had advocated for 135,000 with a much more ambitious goal of 200,000 by fiscal year 2026.