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New York Times

Early Promises Broken: Inside Biden’s Reversal Against Refugees

Washington ā€” Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in the Oval Office and appealed to President Joe Biden. At a meeting on March 3, Blinken told the president to end immigration restrictions during the Trump era, leaving tens of thousands of desperate refugees to the United States from war, poverty and natural disasters, according to some people familiar with the exchange. I asked for permission to escape. But Biden, already under intense political pressure due to the proliferation of immigrant children at the Mexican border, did not move. According to one who later explained the conversation, the president’s attitude during the meeting was essentially: Why are you bothering me with this? What was easily promised on the campaign trail to sign up for the morning newsletter from the New York Times, the promise that the Democratic Party will overturn the “racist” restrictions on President Donald Trump’s refugee acceptance, is new. It was a test of what was really important to me. Residents of the White House are explained by more than 12 Biden administration officials, refugee resettlement officials, and more. Biden is keen to praise Mr. Trump for raising his record lower limit significantly, and those familiar with his ideas will raise the upper limit earlier than the start of the normal fiscal year of October 1. He said he had decided. With Biden’s presidency, immigrants and borders were already a big distraction from his efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and convince Congress to invest trillions of dollars in the economy. At the heart of his presidency. Now, as Biden promised Congressman just a few weeks ago, the decision to raise the refugee cap to 62,500 would launch a new attack on hypocrisy and open borders from the Republicans, even if the president wanted transpartisanness. Will invite. It was a terrible time, he told officials, especially federal agencies, which have already struggled to manage the most immigrant children and teenagers on the border in more than a decade. The March 3 exchange officially announced that Biden would send Blinken and two other Cabinet Secretaries to increase refugee immigration over the next six months from Trump’s annual limit of 15,000 to 62,500. It was done shortly after telling Congress. Instead, the president cut down his messenger and left hundreds of refugees for weeks. Over the next month and a half, Biden’s aides repeatedly said he was stuck and the president would still follow reporters and refugee advocacy groups. But this delay affected the real world. Already thoroughly screened, more than 700 refugee flights that have issued tickets for travel to the United States have been cancelled. Pressured to accept them, members of Biden’s staff came up with a compromise that they wanted to satisfy the president and resettlement. They maintain the limit of 15,000 refugees, but lift the limit of the Trump era, which allows more flights to be resumed. On Friday, White House officials informed reporters about the new policy. The repulsion happened immediately. Sen, Richard Durbin, and Illinois posted on Twitter. This is unacceptable. “Within a few hours, the president turned back. The White House said Biden still allowed more refugees into the country and promised to reveal details by May 15. Announced. White House spokesman Jen Saki accused the episode of a “messaging” mistake. But for Biden, it was another example of his administration’s struggle to fulfill its promise to restore the US reputation as a sanctuary for the most vulnerable people-during the presidential election to stay away from Trump. Democrats enthusiastically pledged. It was also an early lesson on what would happen if the president raised expectations and failed to do so. Commitment In a statement on World Refugee Day last summer, Biden, then presidential candidate, clarified his support. “I will increase the number of refugees welcomed in this country and set the annual global refugee target at 125,000,” he said, promising “more refugees over time commensurate with our responsibilities.” Did. After winning the White House, his transition team set out to make the pledge a success, discussing the pros and cons at a series of meetings in December. With only six months remaining in the fiscal year, Biden’s adviser recommended that he be able to exceed his campaign pledge. The president usually increases refugee entry at the end of the fiscal year. However, Biden will allow up to 62,500 refugees to enter the United States by October 1 by declaring “serious humanitarian concerns” around the world as an emergency. On his first day in office, the president was flooded with immigration-related executive orders and did not mention refugees. But only two weeks later, on February 4, he actively announced his plans in a speech at the State Department. “It will take time to rebuild what is badly damaged, but that’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” Biden said. He didn’t mention the 62,500 figure, but repeated the 125,000 promises from October, adding that he “instructed the State Department to consult Congress to pay the down payment for that promise as soon as possible.” On February 12, the president fulfilled a concrete promise to Congress and promised to resettle 62,500 refugees fleeing war and persecution to their homes. Blinken delivered a message to lawmakers with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mallorcus and then Deputy Secretary of Health and Welfare Norris Cochran. “They went there and presented a really thoughtful plan, and we were very excited,” said Mark Hetfield, CEO of the Hebrew Immigration Assistance Association, a resettlement agency. It was. “And it evaporated overnight,” Hetfield said. Impact The impact of the president’s delay in Washington was felt around the world. Resettlement has already booked flights for hundreds of refugees. According to the National Immigration Forum, an advocacy group, such migrants are identified as refugees by the United Nations or other organizations and must pass several reviews, which can take an average of two years. About 33,000 refugees have received such approval, and about 115,000 are in the process of resettlement. The Department of Health and Human Services is scrambling to provide shelter for minors at the border, but its role in helping refugees abroad is primarily to provide financial support to families after they arrive in the United States. Limited. The Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security play a more important role in screening refugees abroad. Under Trump, who enacted a refugee ban and expanded the examination of those fleeing persecution, many have almost given up hopes of reuniting with relatives in the United States. The Biden administration intended to send a message after a four-year immigration policy that blocked the United States to the most vulnerable. At a quarterly meeting between the State Department and resettlement on February 26, Biden administration officials said a renewed budget for refugees came as soon as the president signed the final declaration, according to people familiar with the matter. He said it would be announced. But Biden hadn’t done that yet, and officials warned that flights for refugees would soon be cancelled. Over the course of weeks and months, it became clear that Biden’s presidency was not the panacea that some thought. “Will the refugees wait in line, follow the rules, go through this cumbersome process, take the ticket out of their hands because the president didn’t sign the paper, and then give the ticket to the refugee?” Hetfield said. It was. “It’s unacceptable.” The denial within the White House clarified his view, according to some familiar with his opposition to limiting refugee entry to 62,500. He didn’t intend to approve the number because the intersection at the border was rising. “It’s not surprising that Blinken had the opportunity to discuss the restoration and strengthening of the refugee program with Biden,” said Blinken spokesman Ned Price. The two personally intimate did not dispute the issue, according to people familiar with the matter, but the president had no doubt where he stood. Publicly, Saki delivered a very different message. On April 1, she denied that the delay in signing the presidential decision was related to resources already spent on the southwestern border. “No, no, it has nothing to do with it,” she said. “Number.” And on April 8, Pusaki was asked, “Is there any problem in raising the refugee limit?” She denied it was. “No,” she said. “We continue to work on it.” Congressman was also worried. Until Trump assaulted the refugee program, the presidents of both parties had always signed the presidential decision within hours of delivering it to lawmakers, as required by refugee law. But under Biden, the wait seemed endless. The reversal last Friday, the wait is finally over. But that wasn’t what everyone expected outside the White House: the Trump cap remains intact. “Up to 15,000 refugees’ entry remains justified by humanitarian concerns, otherwise it is in the national interest,” Biden wrote in a presidential memo to the State Department. When the playing card cap is full, the memo said the ceiling could be raised again “if needed.” Instead of fulfilling his promise to significantly increase refugees’ entry into the United States, Biden stuck to a cap designed by Trump’s immigration policy designer Stephen Miller. “This reflects Team Biden’s perception that border floods cause record medium-term losses,” Miller tweeted, “if it’s still up to him,” the refugee cap is It should be reduced to zero. ” The idea that Miller and Biden had agreed on everything was disgusting to most of the president’s supporters, many of whom were furious. “This cruel policy is no longer accepted than it was during the Trump administration,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal of D-Conn. Within hours, White House officials learned they had a problem with their hands. In a statement made at 4:36 pm, Saki claimed that the president’s decision on refugees had “became a subject of confusion.” Saki argues that Biden is likely to increase the number of refugees allowed again by May 15, but White House officials questioned the timeline. “I don’t think it will reach 15,000 imminently,” officials said. ā€œI don’t think anyone knows exactly what the pace will be.ā€ By Friday evening, the White House was in full damage control mode. National Security Adviser John Finner held an emergency conference call with refugee advocates at 7:30 pm, emphasizing the government’s rush to welcome refugees. “We hope that in the first three weeks of the Biden administration, the energy that has taken leadership in the global refugee crisis will be back on track,” Hetfield said. “They have lost a lot of momentum.” This article was originally published in The New York Times. Ā© 2021 The New York Times Company