Biden to raise current U.S. refugee cap from historic lows

U.S. President Joe Biden waves while boarding Air Force One. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

(Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden plans to raise the refugee cap for the current fiscal year to 62,500, a sharp increase from the 15,000 set by former President Donald Trump, two people familiar with the move told Reuters on Friday.

The allocations will create spots for 22,000 refugees from Africa, 6,000 from East Asia, 4,000 from Europe and Central Asia, 5,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 13,000 from South Asia, the people said. Another 12,500 unallocated spots will also be available.

The move comes after Biden signed an executive order calling for changes to refugee processing in the United States on Thursday. He said he plans to set the limit for fiscal year 2022, which begins on Oct. 1, 2021, at 125,000 refugees.

Refugee admissions reached historic lows under Trump, who portrayed refugees as a security threat and made limiting the number of immigrants allowed into the United States a hallmark of his presidency.

The admissions slowed to a crawl amid Trump’s restrictions and the coronavirus pandemic. From Oct. 1 to Feb. 5, the United States resettled only 1,501 refugees, according to U.S. State Department data shared with refugee groups.

The White House referred a request for comment to the U.S. State Department, which did not immediately respond.

Reporting by Mimi Dwyer and Ted Hesson; Editing by Leslie Adler