The White House would not say when President Joe Biden plans to finalize a repeal of the Trump administration’s immigration rules, including a cap on the number of refugees resettled in the United States.
Biden remains “committed to” the issue, but “I just don’t have an update on the signing of the paperwork,” press secretary Jen Psaki told the Washington Examiner on Monday.
Less than three weeks into office Biden, signed an executive order to boost federal programs that resettle refugees, systems the president said were “badly damaged” under former President Donald Trump.
The president proposed raising the 15,000-person refugee cap under Trump to 62,500 spots but has yet to sign the presidential determination that would finalize the move. Signing typically occurs right away.
A report issued Friday by the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian nonprofit organization, estimates that Biden is on track to admit fewer than half the number of refugees Trump admitted in his final year in office, about 4,510, or fewer than any president in history.
The delay is “unexplained” and “unjustified,” according to the report. It also said the Biden administration was failing to use the refugee resettlement system for migrants arriving at the southern border, calling this a “critical tool.”
This fiscal year, the U.S. has taken in 139 refugees from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and only one Venezuelan.
“I don’t know the specific reason why [Biden] hasn’t signed, and it’s really unusual that he hasn’t signed,” Nazanin Ash, IRC vice president for global policy and advocacy, told the Washington Post. “It is typically a standard, automatic last step in the process.”
In a preliminary request to Congress, the White House called for a $1.5 trillion budget in 2022 that includes multi-billion dollar provisions for the federal immigration response.
Under the plan, the Department of Homeland Security would receive $52 billion, with $1.2 billion allocated for “effective and modern” border security. The Office of Refugee Resettlement, a Health and Human Services Department division, would receive $4.1 billion.
The plan would also boost funding for the country’s immigration courts by 21%, hiring judges and courtroom staff to help reduce the backlog of pending cases.
“The discretionary request proposes the resources necessary to fulfill the President’s commitment to rebuild the Nation’s badly damaged refugee admissions program and support up to 125,000 admissions in 2022,” the White House said.