April 27, 2021

Warren, Durbin and Colleagues Urge President Biden To Issue Updated Presidential Determination With An Increased Refugee Admissions Target

Senators also urged President Biden to set a target of at least 125,000 refugee admissions in FY 2022 and 62,500 for this fiscal year

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and 32 other Senate colleagues in a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to issue an updated presidential determination with an increased refugee admissions target for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 as soon as possible. The senators also urged President Biden to set a target of at least 125,000 refugee admissions in FY 2022 and to set the refugee admissions target at 62,500 for this fiscal year, as the administration proposed to Congress in February. The senators’ letter comes after the administration announced it intended to establish a final increased refugee admissions target for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15, 2021. 

“The United States must reject the previous Administration’s cruel legacy of anti-refugee policies and return to our longstanding bipartisan tradition of providing safety to the world’s most vulnerable refugees,” the senators wrote. “Under the previous Administration, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) suffered from four consecutive years of dramatic decreases in refugee resettlement, resulting in reduced capacity in our refugee resettlement infrastructure. We acknowledge the challenges you inherited with USRAP, and we strongly support the rebuilding and strengthening of USRAP.”

The senators continued, “We urge you to expeditiously and safely admit all qualified refugees who are waiting to be resettled. We urge you to set a robust increased target for USRAP as soon as possible.”

Since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States resettled an average of more than 80,000 refugees per year. However, the Trump administration set the annual refugee admissions target at disgracefully low numbers for four years in a row. Last fiscal year, the administration set a target of only 18,000 refugees and just 11,814 refugees were admitted.  

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were more than 80 million people displaced worldwide in 2020, a record high. Among this displaced population are 26 million refugees – the highest number in history – half of whom are children. UNHCR estimates that 1.4 million refugees are in urgent need of resettlement.

Along with Warren and Durbin, today’s letter was signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.).