Biden was criticised for initially moving only to expand the eligibility criteria for resettlements.
And so she actually had to go back into the refugee camp where she is right now. Two months later, that number has been slashed.
At the White House press briefing on Friday, Psaki also attempted to explain the delay in Biden's action on the refugee cap.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said later that Biden has been consulting with his advisers to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1, the of the fiscal year.
She said that "given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on" a federal office that handles refugees, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Refugee Resettlement, Biden's "initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely".
President Joe Biden received a tidal wave of criticism on Friday following the announcement that the administration would not increase refugee admissions this year.
"The President's directive today has been the subject of some confusion", Psaki said in a statement. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise.
"It is simply unacceptable and unconscionable that the Biden Administration is not immediately repealing Donald Trump's harmful, xenophobic, and racist refugee cap that cruelly restricts refugee admissions to a historically low level", Jayapal said in a statement. "The challenge of ramping up admissions to President Biden's pledge of 125,000 is daunting, but it is an occasion we can rise to". "President Biden has broken his promise to restore our humanity".
What did the White House say later?The White House also blamed Trump for decimating the resettlement program in the USA, while the senior administration official cited the COVID-19 pandemic without elaborating.
According to the report, midway through the 2021 fiscal year, only 2,050 refugees had been admitted to the United States, marking a "new historical low".
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Nazanin Ash, vice president of policy and advocacy for the International Rescue Committee, said postponing an increase in the cap had real-life consequences.
© Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images, FILE President Joe Biden speaks about foreign policy at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on February 4, 2021. "And so, we had to rebuild some of those muscles and put it back in place".
Officials had also cited the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons to keep the cap at 15,000, but they added that with vaccination and testing expansions, it would be easier to process new refugee admissions.
But Biden was concerned that lifting the Trump-era cap on refugees would overwhelm the already-strapped system, according to two senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss decision-making.
Critics from both sides of the political spectrum had accused Biden of bowing to political pressure that has been mounting over the record pace of unaccompanied migrants crossing the US-Mexico border.
The announcement came after Biden was criticized by fellow Democrats for refusing to raise the cap as part of the determination he signed earlier in the day.
"Failing to issue a new determination undermines your declared objective to reverse your predecessor's refugee policies and to rebuild the Refugee Admissions Program to a target of 125,000 people in FY22, and threatens US leadership on forced migration", he wrote.
In a letter to Biden, Menendez called 15,000 "appallingly low". But the classification also disqualified most other Muslim and African refugees. The new allocation will prioritize them, according to the senior administration official, which they say will allow the 15,000 cap to be met more quickly.
Under Biden's new plan, the 15,000 slots would be allocated this way: 7,000 for Africa, 1,000 for East Asia, 1,500 for Europe and Central Asia, 3,000 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 1,500 from the Near East and South Asia, and 1,000 for an unallocated reserve.
The official said that the 15,000 slots would be opened to more regions than allowed under Trump and said "we are prepared to consult with Congress should we need to increase the number of admissions".