Multiple outlets report that President Joe Biden will sign an emergency declaration on Friday preserving the Trump administration’s historically low 15,000 ceiling on the U.S. refugee program, a stunning reversal of the President’s promise to lift the annual cap.
Unnamed officials told the Associated Press and CNN that the declaration will speed up the approval process for refugees. However, the number of slots will not be increased, erasing the plan Secretary of State Tony Blinken submitted to Congress in February that proposed to lift the cap to 62,500 this fiscal year.
An official signaled in an interview with the New York Times that the decision was a response to the influx of arrivals at the southern border.
However, the border immigration program and the refugee program are completely independent from one another.
CNN reported on Thursday that Biden was privately concerned about the political optics of raising the cap.
The President’s backpedaling comes on the heels of his Justice Department maintaining another one of Trump’s harsh anti-immigration efforts this week; specifically the border wall.
The DOJ seized private land in a Trump-era eminent domain case for the former president’s wall after a judge approved the seizure, despite Biden previously vowing to drop those lawsuits.
“End. Stop. Done. Over. Not going to do it. Withdraw the lawsuits. We’re out. We’re not going to confiscate the land,” Biden told NPR in August.