One of President Joe Biden’s top officials contradicted the president on an issue that has earned Biden a lot of backlash from members of his own party.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said over the weekend that it would be “very hard” to meet Biden’s stated refugee cap increase, Fox News reported.
“It’s going to be very hard”
During an appearance Sunday on ABC’s This Week, Blinken blamed the difficulty of raising the refugee cap on the prior administration.
“One of the biggest problems we faced was inheriting a broken system,” Blinken claimed. “And the refugee system that we found was not in a place, did not have the resources, the means to effectively process as many people as we hoped.”
Accordingly, Blinken said he thinks it would be “very hard” to increase the refugee cap to 62,500 by the end of this fiscal year, which is Biden’s stated goal.
“I think what the president has and the White House has said today is that based on what we’ve now seen from in terms of the inheritance and being able to look at what was in place, what we could put in place, how quickly we could put it in place, it’s going to be very hard to meet the 62,000 this fiscal year,” Blinken said.
Blinken added that the administration is going to be “revisiting this over the coming weeks.” He also revealed that there will likely “be an addition directive coming out in the middle of May.”
In February, Biden told Congress he would increase the refugee cap to 62,500 by September 30, 2021, and that he would increase it to 125,000 the following year.
In the Emergency Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for 2021 released last week, however, Biden expanded the number of regions from which individuals would be accepted as refugees, but he retained the Trump administrations’s cap of 15,000 refugees total.
The move prompted backlash from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive activists.
“Completely and utterly unacceptable,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Friday. “Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise.”
The Biden administration responded by promising to increase the cap by May 15, although it did not provide further specifics.