Deputy National Security Advisor John Finer told advocates that Biden wanted to work quickly to bring in refugees, who were already vetoed and approved in the United States after long delays, including several of their flights Were canceled.
Following a flood of criticism, the White House announced a subsequent retreat on Friday and Biden announced a mid-May installment of a “final, increased” refugee cap, but added that it was “unaffected” in numbers. 62,500 cap as high as the first proposed year.
Finer said on the call that the 125,000 figure Biden had asked for was an “aspirational number”, but remained the goal of administration and, according to a source familiar with the call, “a major challenge”.
According to the source, why the Biden administration pressed on track for refugee admissions, the worst year in the program’s history, Finn insisted that “it would not be the number we end up with,” according to the familiar source.
Finer also claimed that the refugee admissions program was “even more dismantled than we thought,” with processing capacity and fewer staff to deal with a security vetting process, which according to a familiar source is slow.
The White House said on Friday that a “factor” in the decision was that the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, had limited capacity, leading to an increasing number of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border looking at .
Finer said the administration wanted to ensure that it could support both refugees trying to seek asylum in the United States and unaccounted children arriving at the southern border to fulfill their responsibilities.
But refugee resettlement agencies have repeatedly said that they are ready for refugee arrival.
But Biden delayed approving the proposal, resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of resettlement flights and the release of thousands who hoped to reach the US in limbo.
On Friday, Biden signed the emergency allocation, which reverted to regional allocation, effectively building a wide net that could settle in the US under the current 15,000 refugee roof.
As of March 31, according to the Refugee Processing Center, only 2,050 refugees were admitted to the US in this financial year.
This story has been updated with more details from the call.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez, Katlan Collins, Kylie Atwood, Lauren Fox and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.