President Joe Biden gets briefed by Liz Sherwood Randall, Julie Rodriguez and participates in a conference phone call with governors affected by the snow storm in the middle of the country in the Oval Office, February 16, 2021, in Washington. Photo: White House/ZUMA Wire/dpa

President Joe Biden has raised the cap for refugee admissions into the United States to 62,500, in a U-turn that more than quadruples the limit set by his predecessor.

The number announced on Monday was still short of the 125,000 Biden promised during his presidential campaign, though he said he intended to set that as the goal for next year.

Biden had previously set this year’s refugee admissions level at 15,000, maintaining the cap set by former president Donald Trump, but after receiving criticism in April he walked it back.

“Today, I am revising the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year,” Biden said in a Monday statement.

“This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.”

Biden said that the 62,500 cap was unlikely to be reached this fiscal year, which ends September 30.

“We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway,” he said.

The Trump administration’s 15,000 cap was the lowest since the introduction of the US refugee programme in 1980. The previous limit for the last fiscal year was 18,000.

In 2016, then-president Barack Obama’s last full year in office, about 85,000 refugees were allowed into the US. Trump lowered the limit in 2017, his first in office, and about 53,000 refugees were let in, according to a report issued last year by the Department of Homeland Security.

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