White House retreats on Biden’s refugee promise

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki signaled a retreat Friday from President Biden‘s goal of allowing up to 62,500 refugees into the country in 2021, saying that now seems “unlikely.”

Mr. Biden sent Congress a notice in February saying he would up the 15,000 number bequeathed to him by President Trump, and put his own target at 62,500.

But Ms. Psaki said they have since realized that’s not going to be doable.

“For the past few weeks, he has been consulting with his advisors to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1. Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” she said in a statement.

She said there had been some “confusion” after Mr. Biden earlier in the day had rearranged the categories of refugees allowed under the 15,000 cap, but left the cap in place — drawing fierce criticism from the president’s political base, which said he was embracing the “racist” policy of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Psaki said Mr. Biden‘s announcement Friday wasn’t meant to be the final word and he does still plan to raise the refugee number for 2021. He will submit a new target by May 15, she said.

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