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Biden raises refugee cap, central Indiana advocates happy about change

Raised cap comes after criticism
Posted at 8:00 AM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 08:03:14-04

INDIANAPOLIS — More refugees — people who have been forced to leave their country because of violence or natural disaster — will be allowed in the United States.

This is possible following Monday's announcement from the White House stating that President Joe Biden will allow 62,500 refugees into the country for this fiscal year. That's up from the prior administration's cap of 15,000.

Biden raised the cap after facing criticism from advocates and people in the democratic party for first deciding to keep the refugee cap the same as former President Donald Trump.

"This is good news for the Burmese American Community. We welcome the president's decision," Elaisa Vahnie, Burmese American Community Institute's Executive Director, said.

Vahnie has been part of several protests over the last three months, standing in solidarity with those facing a military crackdown in his home country Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

"As we speak, the Burmese military continues to kill peaceful protesters, children, women, people who are just in their homes," Vahnie said.

It's estimated more than 700 people have been killed in Myanmar since the military coup began in February. Allowing more refugees in, Vahnie hopes, could potentially save lives and reunite Hoosiers with their family.

"We hope that this will open a little bit more of a window for those who are fleeing conflicts including Burma," he added.

"Many of the Burmese here came as refugees. Unfortunately, with what's going with their country, we're starting to see a great influx of need to bring their families here because the country has again become so unstable," Rachel Van Tyle, Exodus Refugee Immigration's Director of Legal Services, said.

Van Tyle explains why the United States should be leading efforts in refugee resettlement.

"The United States has an obligation under law, under the 1951 Refugee Convention to which we are a signatory. Also, more importantly, we have the resources and availability to support people," Van Tyle said. She is happy they'll now be able to help more people thanks in big part to Biden's actions, but she is realistic. She's not sure our country will reach the 62,500 allowed this fiscal year, but they will do their best under the circumstances

"We strive to continue to be a welcoming place for refugees here in Indianapolis and around state. We strive to be that beacon for refugees around the world," she said.