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Heinrich Welcomes Biden Administration's Refugee Admissions Target

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), released the following statement after the Biden Administration announced it would raise the Fiscal Year 2021 refugee admissions target to 62,500:

“Like almost all of us in this nation of immigrants, my family's story in America began with a search for a better life. My father came to the United States with his family from Germany as a young boy. I often wonder how different my own life would be if America had turned my father away.

“How we treat immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers shows the world what our country stands for and demonstrates that we are committed to living up to our true American values. I welcome President Biden’s decision to raise the Fiscal Year 2021 refugee admissions target to 62,500 and reaffirm that immigrants play a vital role in our nation’s success.

“America has the ability and the capacity to welcome refugees, and I look forward to continuing to work with President Biden and senators from both sides of the aisle to create a fair, just system for those who come to the United States fleeing violence and facing unthinkable adversity and persecution.”

Last week, Heinrich joined 33 of his Senate colleagues in a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to issue an updated presidential determination with an increased refugee admissions target for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 as soon as possible.  The Senators also urged President Biden to set a target of at least 125,000 refugee admissions in FY 2022 and to set the refugee admissions target at 62,500 for this fiscal year, as the Administration proposed to Congress in February.

Since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States resettled an average of more than 80,000 refugees per year.  However, the Trump Administration set the annual refugee admissions target at disgracefully low numbers for four years in a row.  Last fiscal year, the Administration set a target of only 18,000 refugees and just 11,814 refugees were admitted. 

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were more than 80 million people displaced worldwide in 2020, a record high.  Among this displaced population are 26 million refugees – the highest number in history – half of whom are children.  UNHCR estimates that 1.4 million refugees are in urgent need of resettlement.