11.03.2023 0

Biden Plans to Vastly Expand “Refugee” Applicants to Circumvent Border Crisis, Ignoring Public Opinion

By Manzanita Miller

While there is a dearth of data showing the border crisis is costing Biden heavily in polls, Biden’s plan to dramatically expand immigration and resettle record-breaking numbers of individuals from Latin America through the refugee program is wildly out of step with public opinion.  

Not only have the massive spikes in illegal border crossings strained border patrol resources and posed threats to national security, but the Biden Administration’s response is to vastly expand the number of individuals entering the U.S. under the refugee program.

According to CBS News, the Biden Administration plans to “resettle” as many as 125,000 refugees in the year ahead, with almost 50,000 coming from Latin America alone. This number represents the highest refugee resettlement target since the early 1990’s and is not remotely in-line with public preferences.

Biden’s refugee resettlement plan is a reversal of Trump-era efforts to scale down the number of refugees entering the country, largely due to strains on U.S. resources and national security concerns. However, Biden has flipped that script and is well on the way to expanding the U.S. refugee program to unprecedented levels despite public resistance.  

In Trump’s last year in office, a little over 10,000 individuals were admitted using refugee status, but Biden more than doubled that number by 2022. By the end of FY 2023 the Biden Administration will resettle as many as 60,000 individuals and will likely fully reach its target of 125,000 individuals in FY 2024.  

The problem with this lofty resettlement agenda, aside from concerns over proper vetting of individuals and strains on U.S. resources, is the majority of Americans do not want immigration or refugee programs expanded.

October polling from YouGov shows Americans are deeply concerned about the toll illegal immigration is taking on the country, and broadly reject the idea of expanding the refugee program.

The poll asks Americans directly whether the United States should or should not accept refugees from Syria, Gaza, El Salvador, and Ukraine, and Americans strongly oppose accepting refugees from all countries except Ukraine.

Americans don’t believe the U.S. should accept refugees from El Salvador by a fifteen-percentage point margin, 45% to 30%, even though El Salvador is one of the regions the Biden Administration is greatly expanding entry from.

Americans don’t believe the U.S. should accept refugees from Syria by a fourteen-percentage point margin, 46% to 32%, and Americans reject the idea of accepting refugees from Gaza by a thirteen-percentage point margin, 46% to 33%. Americans are more open to accepting individuals from Ukraine and do so by a seventeen-percentage point margin, 50% to 33%.

According to the poll, only around a third of Americans (34%) say immigration makes the United States better off, and support for expanding the refugee program is even lower. Just 29% of Americans say refugees improve the U.S. compared to 39% who say they do not, a ten-percentage point difference.  

There are strong partisan differences, with Republicans saying 64% to 12% refugees make the U.S. worse, while Democrats say 45% to 17%, refugees make the U.S. better. Independents side with Republicans, saying 36% to 28% that refugees do not improve the U.S.

Notably, even on the matter of legal immigration Americans are becoming weary. Just 32% of the country wants to increase legal immigration, while the majority (57%) want numbers reduced or kept the same. Even among Democrats support for increasing legal immigration is at just 40%.

These numbers come on top of polling from Reuters/ Ipsos that showed Americans say 48% to 37% that immigration is contributing to increased difficulties for native-born Americans.

Concerns about elevated crime and a slew of drugs and other smuggled items streaming over the southern border are major drivers behind this shift in sentiment on immigration. Strains on U.S. resources are also a concern.

According to Gallup, the share of Americans who say immigration is a good thing has dropped precipitously by nine percentage points in three years since Biden took office, from 77% in 2020 to 68% today.

Americans are increasingly skeptical of immigration and have deep concerns about President Biden’s attempt to expand the U.S. refugee program. With public opinion favoring a more controlled approach to immigration and asylum seekers, a law-and-order candidate like former President Trump running on tighter border security and increased scrutiny of refugee applicants could be increasingly appealing to Republicans and swing voters.

Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

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