April 16, 2021

Durbin Statement on Refugee Admissions Decision by Biden Administration

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement after the Biden Administration announced it would keep the Fiscal Year 2021 refugee admissions target at 15,000:

“This Biden Administration refugee admissions target is unacceptable.  These refugees can wait years for their chance and go through extensive vetting.  Thirty-five thousand are ready. Facing the greatest refugee crisis in our time there is no reason to limit the number to 15,000.  Say it ain’t so, President Joe.”

In February, Durbin participated in a statutorily-required refugee consultation between the Biden Administration and House and Senate Judiciary Committee leadership. This mid-year consultation is required by law before the Administration can raise the number of refugees to be admitted during the current fiscal year.

Since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States resettled an average of more than 80,000 refugees per year.  However, the Trump Administration set the annual refugee admissions target at disgracefully low numbers for four years in a row.  Last fiscal year, the Administration set a target of only 18,000 refugees and just 11,814 refugees were admitted.  

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were more than 80 million people displaced worldwide in 2020, a record high.  Among this displaced population are 26 million refugees – the highest number in history – half of whom are children.  UNHCR estimates that 1.4 million refugees are in urgent need of resettlement.

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