May 4, 2021

Contact: Kristyn Peck |

WASHINGTON D.C. – Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) is thrilled that President Biden revised the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 people for this fiscal year. This is welcome news after the Administration was criticized last month for keeping the refugee admissions goal at the historically low level of 15,000 people set in October of last year.

This action is necessary to reaffirm America’s commitment to protect refugees and allow for the rebuilding of the refugee protection system. “The United States Refugee Admissions Program embodies America’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable, and to stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge to the world,” said President Biden. “It’s a statement about who we are, and who we want to be. So we are going to rebuild what has been broken and push hard to complete the rigorous screening process for those refugees already in the pipeline for admission.”

The President also reaffirmed his commitment to setting the refugee admissions cap to 125,000 in fiscal year 2022. Although the goal is aspirational given the dismantling of the U.S. refugee protection system in recent years, this commitment allows for the reactivation of the complex system requiring national and international coordination that is necessary for rebuilding.

“Raising the refugee ceiling from its historic low of 15,000 to 62,500 for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021 signals hope for the more than 79.5 million persons who have been forcibly displaced the globe, as estimated by the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR),” said Kristyn Peck, LSSNCA’s CEO. “These are people who are fleeing life or death situations, and for those who have been patiently waiting in the queue to be resettled each day is another day their lives and those of their families are at risk,” she said.

Throughout the 40-year history of the Refugee Act of 1980, which authorized the president to set an annual number of refugees to be admitted in any given fiscal year, the average number authorized for admittance has averaged 95,000 refugees. Known as the Presidential Determination (PD), this annual cap on refugee admissions is set by the President in consultation with the Judiciary Committees in Congress and the Secretary of State.

Over the past four years, the United States has experienced a continued decline in the number of refugees admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The rationale provided for the lowered ceiling was national security; however, refugees are thoroughly vetted by several federal agencies responsible for national security and anti-terrorism. In 2017, the Trump Administration lowered this admissions number to 50,000, followed by sequential declines to 45,000, 30,000, and 18,000 people. In Fiscal Year 2020, despite the refugee cap being set at 18,000, only 11,814 people were actually resettled in the U.S. On October 1, 2020, President Trump issued his final Presidential Determination on U.S. refugee admissions at a historic low of merely 15,000 people.

At LSSNCA, we are poised for new opportunities to grow our mission in 2021. The Biden Administration’s changes to refugee and immigration policy reflect our country’s values and historical underpinnings as a safe haven for those fleeing violence and persecution. We see the President’s action as a call to grow and scale up our programs and partnerships and we are ready to respond. Your support and help are critical as we prepare to welcome our newest neighbors with love and, in partnership with our supporters, create communities of belonging. Please consider making a charitable gift today which will be applied to the most critical needs of those served by our Refugee and Immigrant Service programs in Maryland and Northern Virginia.


Since 1917, LSSNCA has served boldly in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Today, we walk alongside those most in need in the greater DMV to offer hope and accompaniment through services that foster healthy and self-sufficient livelihoods. This includes welcoming New Americans, strengthening families and providing a safe haven to unaccompanied children, providing holistic health and wellness services, , workforce development, mentorship and education on healthy relationships for young people, and  our Youth Haven camps for children impacted by HIV/AIDS. Together and with the help of partners and volunteers we work to promote welcoming and compassionate communities.         

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