Biden keeping Trump cap on refugees admission annually to the US

President Joe Biden has reversed course hours after signing an order to keep the number of refugees admitted annually to the US at Trump-era levels.

Mr Biden drew ire on Friday as he held the cap at the historically low figure of 15,000, two months after he pledged to increase it to 65,500.

The White House later said Mr Biden would raise the refugee cap next month.

Reports say Mr Biden is concerned about letting in more people amid a record influx at the US-Mexico border.

UN figures indicate there are more than 80 million refugees worldwide, with 85% of them hosted by developing countries.

What did Biden’s order do?

The White House said Friday’s order would speed up refugee admissions to the US – since October around 2,000 people have been admitted under the programme.

The order also changes the allocation of who is allowed in, with more slots being provided to arrivals from Africa, the Middle East and Central America, and an end to restrictions on resettlements from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

But Mr Biden kept the maximum number of refugees allowed in annually at 15,000, a ceiling set by his predecessor as president, Donald Trump.

Mr Biden stated the Trump-era cap “remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest”.

Following outcry, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Democratic president’s directive had been the “subject of some confusion”.

She blamed Mr Biden’s failure to deliver on the 62,500 figure that he announced to Congress two months ago on “the decimated refugee admissions programme we inherited”.

Ms Psaki said Mr Biden’s order on Friday was meant to allow refugee flights to the US to begin within days.

The press secretary added: “With that done, we expect the president to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15.”

She did not specify a number, though she said “his initial goal of 65,000 seems unlikely”.

In a speech to the state department in February, Mr Biden vowed to raise the figure to 125,000 within the next budget year.

Nearly 85,000 refugees were resettled in the US during the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency.