Judiciary Chair Durbin Participates in Midyear Refugee Consultation with Biden Administration

Durbin expresses support for increased admissions amid worst refugee crisis since World War II

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, participated in a statutorily-required refugee consultation between the Biden Administration and House and Senate Judiciary Committee leadership. This mid-year consultation is required by law before the Administration can raise the number of refugees to be admitted during the current fiscal year. President Biden has proposed raising the Fiscal Year 2021 refugee admissions target from 15,000 to 62,500, and earlier this month he announced his intent to increase the refugee admissions goal to 125,000 for Fiscal Year 2022. 

“We are in the midst of the largest refugee crisis in history.  There are more than 26 million refugees who have been forcibly displaced from their homes.  An entire generation of children have known nothing but war,” Durbin said. “Since the Refugee Act of 1980, the U.S. had resettled an average of over 80,000 refugees per year until President Trump set refugee admissions targets at the lowest levels in history: first 45,000, then 30,000, then 18,000, and finally 15,000. 

“I believe this Administration will do better.  Raising the refugee admissions target for this year from 15,000 to 62,500, and reopening the program to refugees on the basis of vulnerability – the standard the refugee program used for decades – is a good start.” 

The Biden Administration was represented for the consultation by Antony Blinken, Secretary of State; Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security; and Norris Cochran, Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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 embarrassingly 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.