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Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde February 5, 2021

Biden advances promise to increase refugee admissions

President Joe Biden signed an executive order to advance his promise to admit more refugees into the country each year.

"My administration shall seek opportunities to enhance access to the refugee program for people who are more vulnerable to persecution, including women, children, and other individuals who are at risk of persecution related to their gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation," Biden said in the Feb. 4 executive order.

In a speech, Biden said his executive order would "position us to be able to raise the refugee admissions back up to 125,000 persons for the first full fiscal year of the Biden-Harris administration." Fiscal 2022 starts Oct. 1, 2021.

Former President Donald Trump had capped refugee admissions for fiscal year 2021 at 15,000 — the lowest annual cap since the U.S. refugee admissions program was enacted in 1980.

Biden ordered the secretaries of State and Homeland Security to work with non-governmental groups to identify "particularly vulnerable individuals who have a strong possibility of qualifying for admission to the United States as refugees" and refer them to the program.

Biden's executive order also called on administration officials to submit a report on climate change and its impact on migration, including forced migration, internal displacement and planned relocation.

Biden revoked Trump directives related to the refugee program, and asked for a review of bottlenecks in a special immigrant visa program for Iraqi and Afghan nationals. Biden also asked his administration for a report on fraud detection measures in place for the refugee program.

Biden's order did not raise the cap on the number of refugees admitted this fiscal year, or establish a cap for fiscal year 2022. The purpose of the order is to set the United States on track to accept more refugees than under the Trump administration.

PolitiFact will continue to monitor movement on Biden's promise to increase refugee admissions. For now, we rate this promise In the Works.

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