The cap on the number of refugees who can be admitted into the U.S. is currently at 15,000 for fiscal 2021, a record-low number set by former President Donald Trump that Democratic lawmakers and refugee advocates vigorously pushed for the Biden administration to significantly increase.
Biden, who has come under immense pressure over his immigration agenda from Republicans and some Democrats alike, also reiterated his goal of further raising the limit to 125,000 refugees in his first fiscal year as president, though he acknowledged in the statement that it "will still be hard to hit."
"The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year. We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway," Biden said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
"We have reopened the program to new refugees. And by changing the regional allocations last month, we have already increased the number of refugees ready for departure to the United States," he added.
In mid-April, Biden issued a presidential determination that the refugee cap would remain at 15,000. But hours after the uproar on that announcement, the White House released a statement that the president would raise the ceiling to 62,500 by May 15.