- The Washington Times - Monday, April 19, 2021

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the administration is committed to making an announcement on or before May 15 to increase the number of refugees who will be allowed to enter the U.S. after significant outcry over the administration’s moves on the issue last week.

“We have every intention to increase the cap and to make an announcement of that by May 15 at the latest, and I expect it will be sooner than that,” Ms. Psaki told reporters at the White House.

The White House had moved Friday to free up more slots for refugees from places like Africa, the Middle East and Central America but did not increase the cap of 15,000 refugees for the current fiscal year — a level that had been set by former President Trump.

Ms. Psaki said the administration still has an “aspirational” goal of setting a new cap of 125,000 refugees by the end of fiscal 2022.

She called Mr. Biden’s previous goal of an increase to 62,500 refugees for the budget year that ends Sept. 30 as a “down payment.” Ms. Psaki had said on Friday that the 62,5000 figure appeared unlikely to happen by the end of the current budget year.

She said recent complicating factors included a higher-than-expected increase in unaccompanied migrant children at the border and the time it took to recognize how “hollowed out” the federal infrastructure was to handle both the refugee issue and the influx of migrant children.

She said there have been assessments about “reprogramming of funds” for the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the Department of Health and Human Services, which is handling both refugee and migrant children issues.

“We never said we’re not raising the refugee cap,” Ms. Psaki said. “Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to lift up the hood, kick around the tires and see what the big problems are.”

Mr. Biden had said in a memorandum on Friday that he could revisit the issue if 15,000 refugees were admitted and there was still an “emergency” situation.

Advocacy groups and congressional Democrats had vehemently opposed the initial announcement about the 15,000 figure, saying it was much too low.

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