Sec. of State Blinken: 'Very Hard' to Raise Migrant Cap to 62K This Fiscal Year Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference with transatlantic alliance NATO's chief on April 14, 2021 at NATO's headquarters in Brussels. (Kenzo Tribouillard /Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Sunday, 18 April 2021 08:52 AM
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, blaming the Trump administration for a “broken” immigration system, says it would be “very hard” to raise the cap on refugee admissions to 62,000 migrants this year.
In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Blinken tried to tamp down blowback from the left and right on President Joe Biden’s change in immigration policy at the southern border, where a migrant surge has overwhelmed resources.
On Friday, Biden stated the admission of up to 15,000 refugees set by former President Donald Trump this year “remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest” — but left open the chance it could be raised again in May.
“Based on what we've now seen from in terms of the inheritance and being able to look at what was in place, what we could put in place, how quickly we could put it in place, it's going to be very hard to meet the 62,000 this fiscal year,” Blinken said Sunday.
“But we're going to be revisiting this over the coming weeks. I think there'll be an additional directive coming out in the middle of May… the good news is we're now starting and we're able to start to bring people in who've been in the pipeline and who weren't able to come in. That is starting today and we're going to revisit it in the middle of May.”
According to Blinken, holding the cap at 15,000 “is to make sure we can start the process of actually bringing people in and beyond that, lifting restraints that the previous administration had imposed so that no one, for example, from Africa or the Middle East could come in. That has now been eliminated.”
Blinken called immigration “one of the biggest problems we faced” because the Biden administration “was inheriting a broken system.”
“The refugee system that we found was not in a place, did not have the resources, the means to effectively process as many people as we hoped,” he said.
“What the president has done now in citing the initial directive, is to make sure we can start the process of actually bringing people in and beyond that, lifting restraints that the previous administration had imposed so that no one, for example, from Africa or the Middle East could come in. That has now been eliminated,” he said.
Under Biden's new allocation, 7,000 slots are reserved for refugees from Africa, 1,000 from East Asia, 1,500 from Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 1,500 from the Near East and South Asia. A reserve of about 1,000 slots can be used as needed.
The number of illegal immigrants apprehended crossing into the United States at the southern border skyrocketed last month alone to more than 171,000, the highest levels in at least 15 years.