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Press Release // Refugee Resettlement

President Biden keeps FY23 refugee cap at 125,000

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LIRS Staff

September 27, 2022

Contact: Tim Young | | 443-257-6310

WASHINGTON D.C. – President Biden today officially signed the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2023, maintaining an annual cap of 125,000 slots.

The decision comes as the Biden administration has struggled to rebuild the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, falling far short of its current 125,000 target. The program admitted only 19,919 refugees as of the end of August – or just one month before Fiscal Year 2022 ends on September 30.

While more than 85,000 Afghans and more than 50,000 Ukrainians seeking safety have arrived this fiscal year, the overwhelming majority are not counted towards the refugee cap because they were admitted via humanitarian parole – a mechanism that allows them to live and work in the U.S. for up to two years, but does not confer a direct pathway to permanent legal residence.

In its new report to Congress, the Biden administration’s priorities include, “expanding the resettlement of Central Americans, Afghans at risk due to their affiliation with the United States, LGBTQI+ refugees, at-risk Uyghurs, Hong Kong refugees, Ukrainian refugees, and individuals persecuted for their religious beliefs.”

In response to low admissions numbers and the FY23 refugee cap, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said:

Despite good-faith efforts, the Biden administration fell far short as it grappled with a decimated system inherited from its predecessor, pandemic constraints, and emerging crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine. While humanitarian parole was a valuable stopgap measure to provide temporary protection to Afghans and Ukrainians, it is no substitute for the full resettlement services and permanent residence that refugee status offers. As a result of prioritizing parole over rebuilding the refugee program, displaced children and families of many other nationalities continue to languish in years-long backlogs.

This must be the year that the administration sees its refugee commitments to fruition. It has been particularly helpful in resourcing domestic resettlement agencies to hire necessary staff and reopen sites shuttered under the Trump administration. However, it must ramp up and streamline overseas processing of refugee applications if this lifesaving program is to remain relevant amid an unprecedented global displacement crisis.

Our nation’s reputation as the world’s beacon of hope demands a system that can respond efficiently and consistently to forced displacement, whether that be Afghan interpreters left behind, Venezuelan families fleeing communist authoritarianism, dissidents from Hong Kong defending democracy, or religious minorities like Rohingya and Uyghur Muslims persecuted solely for their faith. With so many lives on the line, the administration must take urgent action to restore our global humanitarian leadership in refugee resettlement.”

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