Ilhan Omar and House Democrats Call on Biden to Formally Raise Refugee Cap

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and a group of House Democrats have called on President Joe Biden to formally raise the refugee cap to 62,500 after delaying the increase.

“Having fought for four years against the Trump Administration’s full-scale assault on refugee resettlement in the United States, we were relieved to see you commit to increasing our refugee resettlement numbers so early in your Administration. But until the Emergency Presidential Determination is finalized, our refugee policy remains unacceptably draconian and discriminatory,” Omar wrote in the letter, joined by Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)

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“We must keep our promises to people who have fled unthinkably brutal conditions in their home countries and live up to our ambition to provide them a safe haven to re-start their lives,” they wrote.

In February, President Biden pledged to start the process of raising the refugee admissions cap to 125,000 during the first full fiscal year of his administration.

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“I’m approving an executive order to begin the hard work of restoring our refugee admissions program to help meet the unprecedented global need,” Biden said at the time.

“It’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged. But that’s precisely what we’re going to do,” he added, noting that he’d asked the State Department to consult with Congress “about making a down payment” to kickstart the process.

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However, while the State Department has issued a report to Congress that proposes raising the cap to 62,500 for the current fiscal year, Biden has yet to sign the directive.

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Omar is the first Somali American and the first naturalized citizen of African birth in the United States Congress, having been born in Mogadishu and she and her family fled Somalia to escape the war and spent four years in a Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.