“It’s going to be very hard to meet the 62,000 this fiscal year,” he said.
Blinken blamed the Trump administration for leaving the refugee program “decimated” and without the resources necessary to care for more refugees.
“The refugee system that we found was not in place, did not have the resources—the means—to effectively process as many people as we hoped,” he said.
Immigration officials have been forced to dedicate most of their resources to accommodating a surge of unaccompanied minors and other migrants at the southern border after Biden’s decision to reverse Trump’s highly effective immigration policies.
Increasingly, hundreds of migrant families are being released without processing, court dates or even screening for the deadly coronavirus. Some estimate that as many as 2 million illegal immigrants could enter the US this year.
As a result of the Biden administration’s rhetoric and policy failures, those who otherwise would have claimed asylum may stand a better chance of avoiding deportation by simply ignoring US sovereignty and sneaking across the border.
Federal immigration officials arrested 172,000 illegal aliens at the southern border in March alone—quickly dwarfing the number that would legally come to the United States through the refugee program.
Blinken’s comments came in response to Biden’s directive from April 16, in which he authorized the State Department to admit 15,000 refugees.
The refugee program will admit 7,000 people from Africa; 1,000 from East Asia; 1,500 from Europe and Central Asia; 3,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean; 1,500 from the Near East and South Asia; and 1,000 from unspecified areas.
Biden said in the order that the 15,000-refugee cap “is justified by grave humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest.”
He further claimed that he failed to meet his promise of 62,000 refugees because of “an unforeseen emergency refugee situation [at the southern border]…due to new or increasing political violence, repression, atrocities, or humanitarian crises” and “changing conditions caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.”
Blinken said Biden will increase the refugee cap in the future but will work within the administration’s limited capacity for now.
“Look, the president has been clear about where he wants to go, but we have to be, you know, focused on what we’re able to do when we’re able to do it,” he said.