President Joe Biden officially raised the national refugee admissions ceiling to 62,500 this year, weeks after facing a bipartisan force backlash for his delay in replacing the record ceiling set by former President Donald Trump.

Refugee resettlement agencies have been waiting for Mr Biden to quadruple the number of refugees allowed into the United States this year since February 12, when a presidential proposal was submitted to Congress saying he planned to do so. make.

But the presidential decision was not signed until Monday. Mr Biden said he first needed to expand the tight eligibility criteria Mr Trump put in place that had barred most refugees from entering. He did so last month in an emergency decision. But he also said that Mr Trump’s cap of up to 15,000 refugees this year “remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest,” indicating that Mr Biden intended to do so. to keep.

It sparked a strong crackdown for not at least taking the symbolic step of allowing more refugees into the United States this year. Second-row Senate Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois called that initial limit “unacceptable” and within hours the White House quickly corrected its course. The administration has promised to raise the historically low cap by May 15 – but the White House has said it likely won’t hit the 62,500 Mr. Biden previously described.

In the end, Biden walked back on that number. Mr Biden said he received additional information that led him to sign the emergency presidential decision setting the cap at 62,500.

“It is important to take this step today to remove any lingering doubts in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much and who are eagerly awaiting the start of their new lives,” Biden said before he said. sign. He said Mr. Trump’s cap “does not reflect America’s values ​​as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.”

But he recognized the “sad truth” that the United States would not hit the 62,500 cap by the end of the fiscal year in September, given the pandemic and the limitations of the country’s resettlement capacity. – some of which are attributed by his administration to the Trump administration’s policies restricting immigration. The White House insisted it was unable to act until now because the administration was taxed by a sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied young migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras arriving at the southern border of the United States, although any connection between the border and the government’s decision on refugees was not immediately clear.