SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Even as the Trump administration kept refugee numbers to record lows, the International Rescue Committee in San Diego was helping settle thousands of refugees from places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
There was hope that under President Joe Biden the numbers would go up and more people would be brought to the U.S.
But last week, Biden temporarily dashed those hopes when the White House announced the cap on refugees would remain at 15,000 for the fiscal year 2021, the same total imposed during the Trump era.
According to IRC, more than 700 refugees experienced “distress while President Joe Biden delayed the reversal of harmful policies set by the Trump administration.”
“These are families that have been waiting for a long period of time under the previous administration, refugees that had already been vetted and were completely ready to travel, it really was a devastating blow,” said Donna Duvin, IRC executive director. “Shock is a good way to put it, it was certainly disturbing news.”
The president’s announcement was met with a lot of criticism and disdain on many fronts, and just hours later, the administration pivoted and said it would increase the totals to more than 60,000 starting in May.
“We would hope that he will make a bold and courageous commitment in May to increase the numbers at the very least to those who are cued up to be resettled, those who have gone through vetting process,” Duvin said.
According to the agency, there are already over 30,000 people conditionally approved for resettlement by the U.S. government.
“Without change in policy, these families will have to start vetting process all over again,” said Duvin.
Duvin added that the resettlement policies for refugees doesn’t apply to asylum-seekers and migrants in cities such as Tijuana who are awaiting permission to cross into the U.S.
“This doesn’t have an effect on what’s happening south of the border, refugee resettlement is a piece apart,” she said. “The difference is that even though people may be fleeing countries south of the border for persecution or exact same reasons, they are not applying for refugee status in their own countries they are making claims at the border or in the U.S.”