President Biden signed the Presidential Determination letter, officially setting the refugee ceiling for FY2022 at 125,000
President Biden signed the memo setting the presidential determination for refugee admissions for fiscal year 2022 at 125,000. This is the number that President Biden has promised since his campaign, but current refugee admissions are not on pace to meet such an ambitious goal without considerable changes. While President Biden revised the FY2021 admissions goal to 62,500 in May, only 11,445 refugees were admitted as of September 30th, the last day of the fiscal year. This is the lowest number of admissions since the modern refugee resettlement program began in 1980, even falling short of the previous low of 11,814 in 2020.The recent evacuees from Afghanistan are not included in these totals.
According to the refugee admissions data on the Refugee Processing Center website, 3,774 refugees were resettled in September. This was more than twice the number of arrivals in August, and the highest monthly number of arrivals since May 2017. While this is a good sign of growth to come, in order to meet the 125,000 goal the administration would need to admit an average of 10,416 refugees per month in the coming year. The Biden administration will need to provide adequate support through both personnel and infrastructure in order to facilitate such an increase.
The White House has acknowledged that it will be a challenge to rebuild the resettlement program following cutbacks under the Trump administration and limits due to Covid constraints but promises, “The rebuilding process is well underway and will enable us to support much increased admissions numbers in future years.”
While expulsions of Haitians have slowed in recent days, approximately 7,500 have been expelled since mid-September
The rate of expulsion flights has dropped since October 1st, but flights to Haiti continue. As of this weekend, about 7,500 people had been expelled since September on 70 flights to Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien. A report from Reuters shows that Haitian families approaching the U.S.-Mexico border have faced widely varying experiences and no clear explanation for why some families are allowed to pursue their cases and others are immediately expelled.
Last week Harold Koh, a senior-level adviser at the State Department, resigned his position in protest of the continued use of Title 42 to expel vulnerable migrants, especially those from Haiti. In his parting memo, Koh stated, "I believe this Administration’s current implementation of the Title 42 authority continues to violate our legal obligation not to expel or return (“refouler”) individuals who fear persecution, death, or torture, especially migrants fleeing from Haiti."
Over 50,000 Afghan evacuees are expected to be released from the military bases where they have been housed for processing
More than 55,000 Afghans have been brought to the U.S. since mid-August with approximately 40% eligible for the special immigrant visa (SIV) due to the work that they did in Afghanistan for the U.S. military. DHS announced that 49,000 of the evacuees have completed their vaccinations and would be ready to leave the military bases following a 21-day waiting period.
Last week the government also lifted the temporary pause on incoming flights that had been implemented following some cases of measles among the evacuees.
Meanwhile, a group of 16 Republican Senators sent a letter asking Secretary Mayorkas to pause relocating Afghan evacuees who have not completed the SIV vetting processes to the United States, citing concerns over vetting incoming arrivals. Evacuees have been vetted in third countries, and then received further background checks upon arrival in the U.S. Some are subject to more extensive screenings, and those who have been flagged have been detained or removed from the U.S.