According to an individual with access to the information, a total of 11,445 refugees were admitted to the United States in the fiscal year that ended Thursday. The person spoke under anonymity as they weren't authorized to disclose the number.
This does not include the thousands of Afghans who were brought to America by American troops after they retreated from Afghanistan 20 years ago. Many of these Afghans were granted entry under humanitarian parole, a legal status that is different from the refugee count.
The number shows that Biden is still struggling to reverse the restrictions on refugee status set by Trump's administration. This was part of a wider campaign to reduce legal and illegal immigration to America.
The U.S. president sets the annual cap for refugee admissions. This runs from October 1 through September 30. Biden was not inaugurated until nearly four months after the end of the previous fiscal year.
The State Department didn't immediately respond to a request to comment on the number.
The total of 11,445 refugees admitted falls well below the 62,500 cap that Biden had set for 2021, which he established in May. This is also lower than the 15,000-person ceiling that Trump originally set for the year.
Biden initially stated that he wouldn't override the 15,000 person cap. However, he later said in an emergency determination that it was "justified by humanitarian concerns" and "is otherwise in the national interests."
However, this drew sharp criticism from Democratic allies, who criticised him for not taking the symbolic step to authorize more refugees in 2018. Although the White House immediately reversed course and increased the cap, Biden stated at the time that he didn't expect the U.S. to meet the new 62,500 ceiling in only four months of the 2021 budget year. This was despite the fact that the U.S. continues to be restricted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the work needed to rebuild the program.
According to refugee advocates, the Trump administration's damage to the program is evident in the record-low number. The 2020 budget year saw the lowest number allowed into the country, at 11,814, which was before the 2021 budget year.
Under previous Democratic and Republican administrations, the historical average yearly was 95,000
Biden's administration has expanded the eligibility criteria that his predecessor had established, which had prevented most refugees from entering. Critics say it is not enough and that the Biden government has taken too slow steps.
It is still to be seen if refugee admissions will exceed the 125,000 limit that Biden set for the current budget, which began Friday.
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah is president of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. This agency is one of nine U.S. agencies that work to resettle refugees.
She stated that, while the Trump administration had wiped out the program, it was now up to Biden to restore it.
She stated in a statement that "if we are to achieve President Biden's goal, 125,000 refugees will be accepted, the administration must be innovative and aggressive in processing,"
Mark Hetfield, HIAS, another resettlement agency agreed with Biden that he "should have done more."
He stated that "What this record-low number really shows...is that the administration must remove red tape and other barriers that prevent the resettlement program effectively responding to emergencies such as Afghanistan."
Biden, who in 1980 cosponsored legislation to create the refugee program, said that reopening the doors for refugees was "how we will rebuild the soul of the nation."