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White House announces higher refugee cap, Utah leaders tout resources

Pray Mo, left, gets some help registering for seventh grade from Stephanie Hunt, English language development teacher and alternative language services coordinator at Clayton Middle School, at the Park Place apartment complex in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. Clayton Middle School has students who speak 22 different languages. Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The White House announced that more refugees will be admitted into the country this year. It’s a decision that could have a significant impact on Utah.

Major refugee announcement from the White House 

President Biden made it official Monday that the nation’s refugee cap will be raised to 62,500 for this fiscal year, which ends September 30.

It’s a massive increase from the cap of 15,000 that was established during the Trump administration.

While the increase has many hopeful they’ll soon be reunited with family and friends, President Biden has already acknowledged the cap limit won’t be reached this fiscal year.

“The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” President Biden explained. “We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”

Ensuring that refugees can settle safely

Here in Utah, leaders are expecting plenty of refugees to head our direction. One of the biggest challenges will be ensuring that they can settle safely amidst the ongoing fight against the coronavirus.

Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson said recently she feels great about the work being done at the Utah Refugee Center, which is currently leading the charge to ensure the state’s refugee population is receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I had the opportunity to visit the Utah Refugee Center… to their vaccine clinic,” she said recently. “It was just really incredible to see people in action there and the hope that it’s giving to our refugee community. Folks are working really hard to make sure that people have good information [and] that they have good access to vaccines.”

According to the White House, the largest refugee allocation this year is 22,000 to Africa. 13,000 is being allocated to the Near East and South Asia, while another 6,000 is being set aside for East Asia.

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