It only took a few hours of blowback from fellow Democrats for President Joe Biden to concede defeat in humiliating fashion on the issue of a cap on new refugee admissions to the U.S.
According to Fox News, Biden seemed to cave to pressure from progressives including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) when his administration came out with a promise to raise the limit on new refugees just hours after issuing an executive order that left a previous threshold intact.
“Completely and utterly unacceptable”
Biden’s Friday executive order increased the number of nations from which vetted refugees would be prioritized, and accelerated the timeframe in which they would arrive, but left in place an annual cap of 15,000 new refugees to the U.S. first put in place by the Trump administration.
That 15,000 is much lower than the 125,000 Biden had promised back in February, as Fox noted.
Ocasio-Cortez, for her part, called the contradiction “completely and utterly unacceptable.”
Completely and utterly unacceptable. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise.
Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, incl the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong.
Keep your promise. https://t.co/A82xYf1XpR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 16, 2021
AOC declares victory
Less than eight hours later, however, the outspoken progressive congresswoman from New York City was singing an entirely different tune, as Biden’s White House succumbed to the pressure and agreed to raise the cap by mid-May.
“This is a testament to the power that people’s movements, community advocates, [and] progressive coalitions have built,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a tweet in response.
“Thankful for that and the Biden admin’s decision to respond to organizers today. Now let’s get these families to their new homes here in the United States,” she added.
White House backtracks
The update came by way of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who said in a statement addressing the “confusion” surrounding Biden’s order that “[g]iven the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely.”
“While finalizing that determination, the President was urged to take immediate action to reverse the Trump policy that banned refugees from many key regions, to enable flights from those regions to begin within days; today’s order did that,” she claimed.
“With that done, we expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15,” Psaki added in a final concession of defeat.