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Biden to raise cap on refugees after criticism

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Saturday he will raise this year's cap on refugees.

That comes a day after drawing criticism from Democratic lawmakers for keeping the historically low cap set by predecessor Donald Trump of 15, 000.

Biden signed an order Friday to extend that admissions cap through the end of September.

That also effectively shelved a plan announced in February to increase the cap by more than four times.

While the asylum system used by migrants is distinct from the refugee program, one U.S. official told Reuters that Biden's approach appears to have tied the two together.

That source said that there were concerns over admitting more refugees at a time of rising numbers of migrants arriving at the border with Mexico, as well as not wanting to look 'too open' or 'soft'.

Refugees are vetted while they are still overseas, unlike migrants who arrive at a U.S. border and then request asylum.

Trump's cap was set partly to limit immigration, and Biden's order to KEEP it was a blow to refugee advocacy groups who wanted the Democratic president to move swiftly to reverse the policy.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday the new refugee cap will be expected to cover the rest of this fiscal year, and would be announced by May 15.

Though she added that the 62,500 figure is unlikely because of how low the current number already is.