President Joe Biden has officially raised the nation’s cap on refugee admissions to 62,500.
According to the Associated Press, previously, former President Donald Trump set a cap of 15,000 refugees, and Biden had delayed changing the cap, saying in an emergency presidential determination that Trump’s number “remain(ed) unjustified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest.”
Many criticized Biden’s decision to seemingly keep the cap low, including Senate Democrat Dick Durbin, who called the cap “unacceptable.”
This week, Biden reversed his decision and increased the cap.
“It is important to take this action today to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much and who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin,” Biden said.
He said the new cap showed “America’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable and to stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge to the world.”
Biden also said that the “sad truth” was that the U.S. would probably not meet the number by the end of the fiscal year in September because of restrictions from the pandemic.
But many faith leaders still said they were glad Biden followed through on his campaign promise, Baptist News reports.
“This is very good news from my perspective,” said Matthew Soerens, U.S. director of church mobilization for World Relief. “It’s a good ceiling to aim for this year, and it helps prepare for an even greater ceiling next year.”
Stephen Reeves of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and executive director of Fellowship Southwest said he was also grateful for the new cap.
“We’re grateful that today President Biden made good on his previous commitment to refugees and those who welcome them to their new home in America,” Reeves said. “While we understand the resettlement infrastructure has been significantly damaged in recent years, this should not diminish our resolve to remain a beacon of hope for the persecuted around the world.”
Six of the nine agencies contracted by the government to resettle refugees are faith-based organizations.
“All of us at (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) are elated that the United States is back on track to lead by example in welcoming refugees,” HIAS chief Mark Hetfield told RNS. “While the goal may be aspirational, we hope it will also be inspirational to the rest of the world and to refugees.”
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.