SAN DIEGO — President Joe Biden on Tuesday kept the national cap on refugee admissions at 125,000 for the 2023 budget year, despite pressure from supporters to raise it even higher to meet demand after falling far short of that figure this year.

Refugee advocates are pushing the Biden administration to do more to restore the US Refugee Admissions Program. After more than four decades, the program suffered major cuts under the Trump administration, which cut enrollment to a record low of 15,000.

Biden has raised the cap by four times that amount, but so far fewer than 20,000 refugees have been accepted in this budget year, which ends on September 30.

That number excludes about 180,000 Ukrainians and Afghans who came to the U.S. through a court process called humanitarian parole, which gets them into the country faster than the traditional refugee program but allows them to stay for only up to two years.

Refugees are granted a path to permanent residence. Their eligibility is determined each year by the president, and federal funding for resettlement agencies is based on the number of people they resettle in a given year.

The 125,000 target is “justified by humanitarian concerns or otherwise in the national interest,” Biden said in his presidential decision. Historically, the average number has been 95,000 under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

For the 2023 budget year, Biden earmarked 5,000 more places for people from Europe and Central Asia, making room for those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

The largest number of places — 40,000 — was reserved for refugees from Africa, followed by 35,000 from South Asia and 15,000 each from East Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Biden has struggled to revive the US Refugee Program, despite increasing numbers and removing bureaucratic barriers put in place by his predecessor, which slowed the process and led to massive backlogs.

Chris O’Mara Wignarajah, head of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, said the Biden administration must act now to improve the refugee program as the United Nations reports a record 100 million people have been uprooted from their homes.

“It must increase and streamline the processing of refugee claims abroad if this lifesaving program is to remain relevant amid an unprecedented global displacement crisis,” she said in a statement.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement that “this ambitious goal demonstrates that the United States is committed to rebuilding and strengthening the US Refugee Admissions Program” through various means. He outlined plans for a pilot program expected to begin by the end of the year that would allow ordinary Americans to sign up for refugee resettlement, similar to the way US citizens stepped up aid to Afghans and Ukrainians last year.

Traditionally, refugees are placed in communities by nine refugee resettlement agencies.

“Our refugee program embodies the best of American values ​​and the will to help those in need, and it will continue to provide access to resettlement as a life-saving, lasting solution,” Blinken said.

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