US Refugee advocates urge Biden to Rebuild US asylum system

Vastavam web: Refugee advocates in the United States are calling on President-elect Joe Biden to reverse some of Donald Trump’s most restrictive immigration policies, including historic-low admission quotas for asylum seekers, when he takes office in January. Rebuilding the US refugee programme may take time, said Becca Heller, executive director of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) advocacy group, but it is critical for thousands of asylum seekers waiting for their claims to be heard.

The US Refugee Admissions Program was severely limited under the Trump administration, which has enacted increasingly restrictive refugee admission quotas and slashed refugee acceptance by more than 80 percent from the last year of former President Barack Obama’s administration. IRAP released recommendations on Friday for the incoming Biden administration to address refugee and asylum seeker admissions into the country – and “rebuild” that federal admissions programme.

The recommendations, Expanding Complementary Pathways for Refugees and Displaced Persons: A Blueprint for the US Government (PDF), point to six main areas where action can be taken, including family reunification, private sponsorship and labour pathways for refugees. This would be a sharp change from Trump’s measures: the Republican president’s final presidential determination on refugee admissions to the US set the cap at 15,000, the lowest since the Refugee Act of 1980 was enacted. Biden also reportedly plans on restoring DACA, the Obama-era programme that protects from deportation undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, and end the so-called “Muslim Ban” that now bars travellers from 13 countries, not all of which have a Muslim majority. The incoming Biden administration is also expected to put in place a 100-day freeze on deportations until updated guidance is issued.