Durbin Statement On Refugee Consultation With Biden Administration

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement after participating in a statutorily-required refugee consultation between the Biden-Harris Administration and House and Senate Judiciary Committee leadership:

“The number of refugees admitted in Fiscal Year 2021 – around 12,000 – is a disappointment. The dismantling of programs by the Trump Administration has hindered our efforts to accept more of the world’s refugees, but that can no longer be used as an excuse.

“The world is facing an unprecedented refugee crisis and I’m glad the Fiscal Year 2022 refugee admission target has been set at 125,000. I urge President Biden to expeditiously sign the presidential determination.

“I am committed to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to turn the page after four years of Donald Trump’s cold shoulder and provide safety to families and children in danger– including thousands of vulnerable Afghan refugees in need of resettlement—all of whom are carefully vetted before they are allowed entry into the United States.”

The Biden Administration was represented for today’s consultation by Antony Blinken, Secretary of State; Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security; and Andrea Palm, Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Last week, the Biden Administration announced its Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 refugee admissions target of 125,000.  In April, Durbin led 33 of his Senate colleagues in a letter to President Biden urging him 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.  The Administration has projected admission of fewer than 12,500 refugees this fiscal year.

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 Trump 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 82 million people forcibly displaced worldwide in 2020, a record high.  Among this displaced population are 26 million refugees – the highest number in history – more than forty percent of whom are children.  UNHCR estimates that 1.4 million refugees are in urgent need of resettlement.