The White House marked the first month of President Joe Biden with a series of executive ordinances that significantly change U.S. immigration policy. One of the most notable of these is the expansion of the IDP program.
According to Biden, after October, the United States must receive 125,000 refugees a year. The previous administration, led by President Trump, kept that number to a minimum, and last year, the refugee limit became only 15,000.
However, their real numbers were even lower last year. According to the State Department, in 2020, the United States sheltered only 11,814 refugees.
Experts fear that, despite Biden’s great desire, such a large-scale expansion will not be easy to implement in practice. The Trump administration has also dramatically reduced resources for refugee programs, making their funding historically low over the past few decades.
Another serious problem for the successful implementation of the program is the coronavirus pandemic, says Christopher Boyan, communications officer at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He also names the lack of qualified staff among the main challenges. “However, there is no doubt that the biggest, or one of the biggest, challenges to launching a program on such a healthy scale that the United States administration is aiming for will be the Covid pandemic,” the UN spokesman said.
Proponents of Trump’s immigration policy argue that such changes are dangerous and pose a greater risk to the security of the United States. In addition to reducing access to IDPs, they advocate for stricter verification of their biographies. Laura Rees, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, told VOA that the practice of security checks “should not be thrown in the trash just because it bears Trump’s name.”
But despite the increase in the IDP limit, the Biden administration has no plans to simplify inspection methods. Instead, the president’s executive order instructs the Department of Homeland Security to take into account the “increase in the number of IDPs” and to prepare the necessary infrastructure for this purpose.
Another problem on the way to implementing Biden’s new immigration policy is the legislative barrier. The president’s decision must be backed up by a budget approved by Congress. The new US government budget must be approved before the start of the fiscal year, October. However, Democrats now control both houses of Congress, giving them a basis for optimistic forecasts in terms of funding.
As for public opinion, as in many other issues, the main dividing line in immigration policy is political views. A February survey found that three in five Republicans “strongly disagree” with Biden’s immigration policy. 61% of Democrats are in favor of increasing the IDP programs. The poll was conducted among up to 2,000 registered voters by Morning Consult and Politico.