As the United Nations recognized World Refugee Day on June 20, the Biden administration used the fig leaf of refugee policy to distract from the millions of illegal aliens flooding across the U.S.-Mexico border under its parole programs.
The U.N. recognized World Refugee Day with a statement estimating that there are 35.4 million refugees and asylum-seekers, and calling for “concrete steps to improve conditions for refugees and their host communities.”
Under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, the U.S. accepts referrals from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and others. Candidates must meet the definition of “refugee” to qualify for resettlement here. Under U.S. law, a refugee is “an individual who has experienced past persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
The Biden administration takes this much farther, stating that U.S. officials “are committed to protecting those with specific needs, including women and girls, children, older persons, members of ethnic and religious minority groups, LGBTQI+ persons, persons with disabilities, stateless persons, human rights activists and dissidents, and others.”
The State Department says that “USRAP reflects our history as a nation welcoming of immigrants, exemplifying a U.S. values-based foreign policy and serving as a beacon of hope for persecuted people around the world.”
If the Biden administration really believed this, officials would hardly have allowed “a vital foreign policy tool that advances U.S. interests and national security objectives” to go to seed.
According to a State Department refugee admissions page, “President [Joe] Biden affirmed the United States’ commitment to welcoming refugees by increasing the total admissions ceilings … to 125,000, the highest target in several decades.” In fact, only 25,465 were admitted in 2022. The administration set a target for USRAP admissions that officials knew they’d never fill, and they have reduced this legal, successful program for refugees to a public relations exercise.
Biden’s Department of Homeland Security has no time or resources left for USRAP’s orderly process, as it is too busy mass-releasing illegal immigrants at the border under the guise of asylum.
USRAP refugees are vetted abroad, brought to the U.S. by the State Department, and re-settled with the support of domestic nongovernmental organizations. So-called asylum-seekers encountered at the border, in contrast, are released with scant vetting as to criminal history, health, or the family relationships claimed to facilitate their entry. All this without any numerical ceiling.
Since the Refugee Act of 1980, the U.S. has admitted about 3.1 million refugees. But in only two years of the Biden administration, more than 2 million illegal aliens have been released into the interior on the pretense that they are all asylum-seekers. Another 1.5 million or more have snuck by border agents as “got-aways,” some with significant criminal records, others carrying fentanyl or other drugs.
That means Biden has allowed more illegal aliens to enter the U.S. in his two years in office than we’ve welcomed actual refugees in 42 years. Sidelining USRAP, Biden used parole, released aliens with far-distant court dates for removal proceedings, or simply let them get past border agents taken off their core duties to act as concierges and social workers.
There is no sign of this flood ending; in fact, Biden’s DHS is ramping up its parole programs, which despite the clever spin of calling them “lawful pathways,” are not specifically permitted or funded in our actual laws.
DHS officials are adding thousands more appointments per month for inadmissible aliens to use the CBP One application to enter the country and receive parole. Biden’s administration is also building camps in Guatemala and Colombia—with more to follow—that are obviously designed not to vet possible refugees for USRAP, but to channel them into the made-up “McVisa” based on abusing parole.
Not satisfied with destroying national sovereignty at the border, the Biden administration has expanded the scope of “refugee” so far beyond its original meaning that it is effectively a blank check. The definition of “particular social group” has been stretched beyond reason.
Furthermore, on June 21, the State Department announced a “[n]ew Approach to Address the Impacts of Climate Change on Migration and Displacement,” which will attempt to blame mass migration on global warming instead of overpopulation, weak economies, bad government, and corruption.
A Biden White House report “recognizes migration as an important form of adaptation to the impacts of climate change and in some cases, an essential response to climate and environmental based threats to livelihoods and wellbeing.”
This philosophy will allow the Biden administration to channel yet more supposed asylum-seekers into immigration process backlogs that now exceed 11 million cases. The “smart, humane policies to address the impacts of climate change on migration and displacement” that Biden lackeys speak of will mostly bypass USRAP and the legal immigration process.
The “particular attention to accessibility, child protection, disability rights, gender equity, indigenous rights, and the needs of members of marginalized or underrepresented groups” that the administration wants will in practice further render asylum and refugee standards meaningless.
Speaking on World Refugee Day at the massive Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi praised the Kenyan government plans to allow some of the 500,000 residents in the camp to live, work, and integrate into Kenyan society. Kenya has deeply divided domestic politics, a growing population it needs to feed and employ, and terrorist groups operating within its borders. There is only so much it will be able to do.
Indeed, there is a finite capacity for any country, even the U.S., to absorb refugees without de-stabilizing its own political and economic environment. The Biden administration seems intent on pushing the United States to that limit and beyond.
Congress must legislate to raise the asylum bar and eliminate mass parole. It must determine an operationally manageable annual numerical cap that includes both USRAP and any ad hoc additional asylum claimants allowed in at the border.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal