Biden administration doubles US refugee admissions

Thousands of migrants, many of them Haitian, illegally cross back and forth between the US and Mexico, on Sept 20. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Biden administration announced on Monday (Sept 20) that it would double the number of refugees it will accept in the coming fiscal year to 125,000, amid rising pressure from people fleeing Afghanistan and other countries.

US President Joe Biden has reversed a trend begun by predecessor Donald Trump to push down the number of refugees accepted each year to a few thousand.

Trump set the official cap for the current fiscal year, ending on September 30, at just 15,000, and actually admitted far less than that.

Biden overrode that number after he came into office, pushing it back up to 62,500.

For fiscal 2022, the level will rise to 125,000.

"Today, the State Department is reaffirming our commitment to refugee resettlement in line with our long tradition of providing a safe haven and opportunity to individuals fleeing persecution," said spokesman Ned Price.

"With the world facing unprecedented global displacement and humanitarian needs, the United States is committed to leading efforts to provide protection and promote durable solutions to humanitarian crises," Price said in a statement.

The announcement came as Washington is trying to help thousands of people who worked for US forces in Afghanistan to flee the country and resettle in the United States.

Some of those could fall under the refugee programme and others under another program of "special immigrant visas".

The announcement also came as US authorities were repatriating thousands of migrants who have crossed the US border with Mexico into Del Rio, Texas, in recent weeks.

Many are Haitians who have fled that country's chronic suffering due to political instability, earthquakes and hurricanes.

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