How Evangelicals Pushed Back on Biden’s Refugee Reversal

Advocates united to hold the president to his campaign promise, combat administration’s misinformation.

Evangelical advocates played a crucial role in holding President Joe Biden accountable to a promise to raise the limits for refugees coming to America. Publicly and privately, they pushed back on the administration’s explanation for continuing Trump-era limits for another six months, framed the change as a betrayal of a promise, and reiterated the moral argument for accepting refugees.

Within a few hours of a presidential memo on April 16 telling the State Department to keep the number of refugee admissions at 15,000 instead of raising it to the promised 62,500, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated there had been “some confusion,” and the administration started to reverse course. That evening, a deputy national security advisor held an emergency conference call with advocacy groups, including World Relief, to offer assurances that the administration would welcome more refugees with haste.

“It was one of the busiest workdays I’ve ever had,” Jenny Yang, senior vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief, wrote on Facebook. “At the end of the day, the President heard the voice of the people and changed course, stating that he is planning to raise the #refugee ceiling next month. Thanks for raising your voice. Keep it up!”

Evangelical groups helped set up the moral conflict just after noon on April 16, when the Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of nine prominent evangelical organizations, released a statement urging Biden to raise the ceiling on refugee resettlement immediately. Expressing “dismay and disappointment,” the letter pointed out the US was on track to accept the fewest refugees in the history of the resettlement program, which began in …

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