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President Biden speaking with reporters after leaving his cart following his first round of golf as president at Wilmington Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Saturday sought to explain why he didn't immediately lift the Trump administration's historically low refugee cap.

Driving the news: Several Democrats accused Biden Friday of not fulfilling his pledge to raise the limit after it was announced he'd keep the cap. The White House said later it would be raised by May 15. Biden told reporters Saturday, "We're going to increase the number."

  • "The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people," continued Biden, per a pool report of his comments after golfing in Wilmington, Delaware.
  • "We couldn't do two things at once, but now we are going to increase the number."

For the record: The executive order Biden signed Friday to speed up the processing of refugees in 2021 states, "The admission of up to 15,000 refugees remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest."

  • It adds that if this cap is reached before the year's end a presidential determination "may be issued to increase admissions, as appropriate." 

Go deeper: On the front lines of the growing border crisis

Go deeper

Apr 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

White House now says Biden will move to increase refugee cap by May 15

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House on Friday afternoon said President Biden plans to lift the Trump-era refugee cap by May 15.

Driving the news: The announcement follows stinging criticism from several Democrats and rights groups, who said Biden was walking back on his pledge to raise the limit. Earlier Friday, Biden signed a directive to speed up the processing of refugees, but kept the Trump administration's historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for this year.

Biden to keep refugee cap at historically low figure set by Trump

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will sign an order Friday to keep the number of refugee admissions this year at the historically low figure set by the Trump administration, walking back a campaign promise to raise the cap, a senior administration official confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Biden has faced mounting pressure to increase the limit as he pledged, with his administration set to accept the lowest number of refugees this year of any modern president, including former President Trump.

"Disgraceful": Ilhan Omar, AOC, other Dems slam Biden's decision on refugee cap

Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Several Democrats on Friday slammed President Biden's decision to not raise the cap on refugees allowed to enter the U.S. this year, calling it "disgraceful" and "utterly unacceptable."

Why it matters: Biden campaigned on the promise to increase the limit, which was set to a historically low figure under the Trump administration.

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