Rep. Ilhan Omar has joined a group of Democrats in urging President Joe Biden to increase the refugee admissions cap to 200,000 for the next fiscal year to meet the “massive humanitarian need” in Afghanistan.
With the Taliban now in control of the country, the U.S. Department of Defense could house as many as 30,000 Afghan refugees at military bases across America, including Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. That figure alone is nearly three times the number of refugees who were admitted to the U.S. last year under President Donald Trump.
President Biden revised the annual refugee admissions cap in May to 62,500 for the 2021 fiscal year, up from the “historically low number” of 15,000 set by the Trump administration. Biden said his goal is to increase that figure again to 125,000 for the next fiscal year.
But Omar and her Democratic colleagues don’t think that’s enough.
“As the people of Afghanistan face an unfolding tragedy, the United States must open its doors to refugees fleeing the devastating consequences of a 20-year U.S. military occupation and 40 years of U.S.-fueled war,” says a letter to Biden signed by Omar and 66 other lawmakers.
They would like to see Biden increase the admissions cap to 200,000 for the 2022 fiscal year, which would be the highest ceiling since the early 1980s.
“To ensure their safety, we urge you to increase the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program cap to no less than 200,000 when you issue your Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 before October 1. We also urge you to expand humanitarian parole to provide refuge to vulnerable Afghans who are in grave danger following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan,” the letter adds.
Omar followed up these calls with an op-ed in CNN, claiming the U.S. and its allies have an obligation to “evacuate every person who is fleeing for their lives in Afghanistan.”
She then says America should be “leading a global migration compact,” which would “provide global funding to address the migrant crisis and establish clear benchmarks for each nation to take in refugees.”
“Afghanistan is not the only test. Central America, Haiti, Syria, Libya, and countries around the world are currently facing large-scale human rights crises and need our help,” Omar writes. “The climate emergency is already fueling extreme weather events, and climate migration is sure to be one of the defining political challenges of the coming century.”
Omar’s home state of Minnesota has welcomed more refugees per capita than any other state.