President Joe Biden signed an order on Friday to keep the US refugee cap at a historically low 15 000, a senior administration official said, opting against a plan he had been considering to raise it to 62 500.
The 15 000 cap had been set by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, as part of his anti-immigrant agenda. Biden two months ago had considered raising the cap to 62 500 and earlier on Friday a group of Democratic lawmakers had renewed appeals for him to act.
Under an emergency presidential determination signed by Biden, the United States will offer refugee status to a wider part of the world than had been allowed by Trump, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official said the United States would use all 15 000 slots under the Biden order and that officials were prepared to consult with Congress should there be a need to increase the number of admissions to address unforeseen emergencies.
The Biden team's review of the US Refugee Admissions Programme it inherited from the previous administration revealed "it was even more decimated than we’d thought, requiring a major overhaul in order to build back toward the numbers to which we’ve committed," the official said.
"That build-back is and has been happening and will enable us to support much increased admissions numbers in future years," the official said.