President Biden to rebuild the refugee resettlement program in the USA

back of refugee children

Last week, the President signed an executive order to restore the U.S. refugee resettlement program. For decades, the USA was the leader in refugee protection. The program had always had strong public support from the American people.

Under the Trump administration, however, the program was almost completely closed. Thousands of refugees who were expecting to come to the USA were left overseas in dangerous situations. Many were waiting to reunite with family members in the U.S.

On February 4th, President Biden signed an order to rebuild the refugee resettlement program.

“The executive order means a lot to me. Now I can reunite with my family members who still live in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. I can’t wait for this to happen.” Mohy Omer, USAHello Advisory Board Member

Who is a refugee?

A refugee is a person who has to leave his or her home because of conflict or other dangers.

According to the United Nations, by mid-2020 more than 80 million people had been displaced from their homes due to persecution, conflict, and human rights violations.

What does the executive order on refugee resettlement include?

Under the executive order, the new administration plans to increase refugee admissions. Starting in October 2021, the maximum number of refugees allowed to come to the U.S. will be 125,000. 

The President will consult with Congress to increase refugee admissions for the current year. The Trump administration had set the number of refugees to be admitted to the U.S. for this year at 15,000. This is the lowest number of refugees since the program started in 1980. However, there is no immediate change as of now.

The order also commits to:

  • improve the quality, security and transparency of the program
  • increase access to the most vulnerable populations including women, children and LGBTQI individuals
  • conduct a review of the current Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Iraqis and Syrians who have supported US troops overseas

How soon can refugees start coming to the U.S.?

The resettlement process is long. Refugees have to go through several background checks, medical screenings, and interviews.

It will take time for refugees overseas to go through all of the required steps before coming to the USA.

Refugees are central to USAHello

Although today USAHello is proud to serve immigrants of all backgrounds, we were originally founded as the Refugee Center Online. Many former refugees play vital roles in our board of directors and advisory councils. 

As an organization, we have been heartbroken to see the devastating impacts of the steps taken to destroy this program. We are so encouraged by this most recent executive order.

We look forward to supporting refugees coming to the USA. We are also here to help the organizations and volunteers around the country who welcome refugees. They play a central role in helping refugees adjust to life in the United States.

Opinions expressed and advice given in USAHello’s Voices and Hello blogs are the writers’ own. USAHello offers impartial information and online courses to help newcomers in the USA.