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President Joe Biden entered the Oval Office with a lot of promises, but perhaps none were as audacious and expansive as what he said he'd do to overhaul former President Donald Trump's U.S. immigration policy. Core to that: In February, his administration vowed to raise the ceiling more than 400 percent on Trump's historically low refugee cap, upping it from 15,000 to 62,500 for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021.
"President Trump's decision to close America's doors to refugees fleeing persecution is cruel and shortsighted," then-candidate Biden said in November 2019. "As president, I will restore America's historic commitment to welcoming those whose lives are threatened by conflict and crisis."
Today he announced that, although he would move to expedite refugee admissions, he will keep Trump's cap as is. His decision leaves thousands of people—who had already been vetted to come to the U.S.—stuck in refugee camps across the globe as they seek protection from persecution and war.
"This phased approach considers the work needed to rebuild our resettlement program and the global challenges for refugee resettlement," a Biden official told Axios, "including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."
But it appears COVID-19 is not the primary reason for Biden's pivot. Instead, a senior administration official said that the increase in unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border had put a strain on the refugee branch of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to The New York Times.
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