News & Resources

IRAP Welcomes Increased Refugee Admissions Target, Urges Biden Administration to Ensure New Target is Met

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

October 8, 2021


Spencer Tilger


(New York, NY) – Today, President Biden signed a new Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions (PD) setting the refugee admissions target at 125,000 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. 

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) celebrates the announcement as an important step toward achieving President Biden’s campaign promise to rebuild the refugee resettlement program. However, IRAP remains concerned that fewer refugees were admitted in FY2021 than any other year in the history of the U.S. refugee program, despite the Biden administration’s assurances that welcoming refugees would be a top priority. In FY2021, the United States resettled only 11,411 refugees, a historic low that falls far behind the average of 80,000 refugees resettled annually between FY 1980-2017.

IRAP Policy Director, Sunil Varghese, responded to the new target:

“IRAP welcomes the Biden administration’s move to raise the coming year’s refugee admissions goal to 125,000. The decision reflects the desires of communities across the country to welcome refugees and acknowledges the need for increased refugee resettlement in response to humanitarian crises around the world, including Afghanistan.

“However, raising the refugee admissions target shouldn’t just be aspirational: it has to be followed by concrete actions to improve the resettlement process and actually resettle more refugees. We expect that the Biden administration has taken concrete steps by now to rebuild the refugee program, and we expect the administration to do more. For example, they must increase processing capacity and reduce backlogs that have left too many vulnerable refugees languishing in dangerous conditions for too long. Unless the Biden administration takes tangible and substantial steps, the U.S. refugee program will be unable to respond effectively to humanitarian crises and the administration will not be able to live up to its promises. It is time for more than just words.”

Additional Background

Last month, IRAP and the Refugee Advocacy Lab published a bipartisan letter signed by more than 300 state and local officials from all 50 states urging the Biden administration to resettle at least 125,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2022. 

Read the letter here.