The number of Caribbean and Latin American refugees making their way to the United States from the nation’s southern border continues to rise. Considering these developments, the Biden administration has introduced a new refugee cap which is meant to help such individuals.
On Friday, the White House clarified its stance on the matter, stating that the aim is to admit more refugees over the next fiscal year starting October 1. The statement also specified the regions which will benefit under this new change in policy.
Even though the projected total number is 125,000, the same as this year, the administration said it aims to admit 35,000 to 50,000 refugees from Latin America and the Caribbean compared to this year’s goal of 15,000.
This marks a significant shift in the nation’s refugee policy and the corresponding numbers. To make this accommodation for larger numbers from the Caribbean and Latin America, the United States has revised its numbers for other parts of the world.
For instance, the number of refugees it aims to admit from Europe and Central Asia has gone down from 15,000 to between 2,000 to 3,000 in the coming year.
The previously active “unallocated reserve”, which could be assigned to any region depending on the whims of administration has now been scrapped as well.
According to the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, the world is facing an “unprecedented global displacement crisis in which record numbers of people have been forced to flee war, persecution, and instability.”
Additionally, he stated that the US is looking to expand efforts to resettle refugees from Latin America and the Caribbean with a special focus on helping “key populations of concern” such as Afghans who helped the US war effort, human rights advocates and other critical groups.
As an unprecedented number of migrants are making their way to the southern border, many hoping to seek asylum in the US, the administration was forced to find policy solutions. The decision was accentuated by the fact that the administration is under significant pressure from the Democrats.
They have been asking the government to deal with the issue, just as they are being lambasted by Republicans who allege the administration has done little to secure the border. The cap sets the target limit for how many refugees the United States can admit from around the world in any given year, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the US will admit that many.
As of August, the US had admitted only about 51,000 of the possible 125,000, which is slight peek into the ground reality behind all the numbers being thrown around.
The Jewish humanitarian organisation HIAS, spoke on the matter via a news release on Friday. They welcomed the number set by the president, calling it a “worthy target.”
Having said that, the organization’s President and CEO, Mark Hetfield clarifies that there was still a lot of room between the number of refugees the administration said it aimed to admit this year and how many actually got to come.
“Though the pace of arrivals has picked up from the previous fiscal year, a lot of work needs to be done in the coming year to make sure the Presidential Determination is more than an aspirational number,” Hetfield explained.
For decades, the Unites States led the world in the number of refugees admitted each year, only to fall behind Canada in 2018.
Admissions under the program hit an all-time low of 11,411 in 2021 after the highly criticised cuts by the Trump administration came around. This year though, a rise in the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. has been noticed following government efforts to beef up staffing and make more trips to foreign countries to interview prospective refugees.
Refugee status is different from other types of protection, such as asylum. This further complicates matters to a large degree.
To be considered refugees, people have to be living outside the US and are generally referred to the State Department by the UN’s refugee agency and then US officials interview and vet them while they’re still abroad. To seek asylum, a person has to be on US soil prior to the initiation of the process.