President Joe Biden said Monday that he wants to raise the maximum number of refugees allowed into the United States this fiscal year to 62,500.
The announcement comes after his administration had first said in February it wanted the cap at that number but before Biden backtracked in April and decided to leave a Trump-era cap of 15,000 in place.
Last month, when the president said he was going to leave the historically low cap in place, he faced fierce criticism from Democratic allies on Capitol Hill.
The blowback led the White House to promise to raise the cap within the coming weeks, and Monday, Biden said it was back to square one: 62,500 in the current fiscal year, which runs until the end of September.
It was a rare unforced political error from the Biden White House.
They blamed the situation on the southern border for overwhelming authorities, although refugee advocates argued the system for intaking those unaccompanied minors was different from that for dealing with refugees, many of whom had already been fully vetted and were awaiting flights to the U.S.
But Monday, the president also sought to set expectations, saying that just because that he was setting a cap of 62,500 — which is subject to a formal consultation process with Congress, “The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year.”
He said this cap would “reinforce efforts that are already underway to expand the United States’ capacity to admit refugees, so that we can reach the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions that I intend to set for the coming fiscal year.”
He also set expectations for next year.
“That goal will still be hard to hit,” Biden said. “We might not make it the first year.”