President Biden will raise the refugee admissions cap to 125,000 on Oct. 1, with State Department spokesman Ned Price saying on Monday that "a robust refugee admissions program is critical to U.S. foreign policy interests and national security objectives, and is a reflection of core American values."
While on the campaign trail, Biden said he would bump up the refugee cap from 15,000 under former President Donald Trump to 125,000 or higher, and this move comes after the U.S. evacuated tens of thousands of Afghan civilians in late August. Afghans who worked with the U.S. military can apply for the Special Immigrant Visa program, but most of the civilians who were flown out of Kabul in August were not applicants, The Wall Street Journal reports.
About 40,000 of the evacuees are now in the United States, but because they were rushed out of Afghanistan, there wasn't enough time to formally classify them as refugees, and as such they do not automatically qualify for a green card in a year or receive government benefits, the Journal reports. The evacuees are in the U.S. on temporary humanitarian grounds, and the White House has requested that Congress change the law so they get the same benefits as refugees.
The world refugee population, at 26 million, is at its highest number since World War II, the United Nations Refugee Agency said. Because of this crisis, the U.S. should raise its admissions cap to at least 200,000, Amnesty International USA Director Paul O'Brien said in a statement, adding, "At a time when thousands of Afghans have been forced to flee their home to find safety, and Haitians are seeking safety on the southern border, the very least the United States can do is set a resettlement goal that meets the moment."