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The United States took in fewer than 26,000 refugees this past fiscal year, roughly 100,000 short of the Biden administration’s stated goal but significantly more than the previous fiscal year, according to official figures released Wednesday by the State Department.

The federal government resettled 25,465 refugees in fiscal year 2022, which runs from October 2021 to September. The final figure, which was not unexpected based on public monthly data reports, marks a significant increase from the roughly 11,000 refugees resettled in fiscal year 2021, a record low in the history of the refugee resettlement program.

But the fiscal 2022 total still falls far short of what President Joe Biden promised when he set a refugee admissions goal of 125,000 last year, a lofty goal his administration has set again for fiscal 2023, which began over the weekend.

The annual number, while higher than several years of the Trump administration, is lower than every year before President Donald Trump took office since fiscal year 1977, when the U.S. resettled about 19,900 refugees.

The fiscal 2022 total includes about 7,000 refugees from South Asia and the Middle East, 2,500 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 2,350 from Europe and Central Asia, 2,200 from East Asia and 11,400 from Africa.

Almost half of the refugees who arrived last fiscal year originated from the Democratic Republic of Congo or Syria.

The total, however, does not include the tens of thousands of individuals who have been evacuated to the U.S. this year from Ukraine and Afghanistan under conditional humanitarian parole, a temporary immigration status used in emergency crises. Some of these individuals may eventually qualify for refugee status after a lengthy application process.

A State Department spokesman said rebuilding the refugee admissions program is “a priority for this administration.”

“We are focused on increasing capacity, speeding up processing and solving long-delayed cases, all while continuing to maintain the program’s rigorous screening and vetting standards. We are also increasing community consultation and expanding our domestic partnerships to ensure a wider and deeper network of partners are able to effectively support new arrivals,” the spokesperson said.

Biden administration officials have previously blamed low refugee admissions numbers on the previous administration, which left the refugee resettlement system in shambles, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic for disrupting international travel and visa processing abroad.

The Trump administration has reduced the cap on refugees — what the administration has said is resettlement — to 18,000 for fiscal 2020 and 15,000 for fiscal 2021, the lowest level the administration has ever set.

Speaking at a panel in Washington in late September, Lawrence Bartlett, director of refugee resettlement at the State Department, said the Trump administration’s efforts had led to a refugee system that was “underpopulated and under-resourced.”

“It has, I think, been partially restored and continues to be restored. It is certainly an initiative of this administration,” said Bartlett.

Immigrant advocates have called on the administration to step up refugee resettlement this fiscal year.

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, executive director of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, the refugee resettlement agency, urged the administration to be “aggressive and innovative” in increasing admissions in fiscal year 2023.

“This should include building on areas where we have seen some encouraging progress, such as the implementation of additional staff, remote interviews, a strong and thoughtful private sponsorship pilot and other measures to streamline the application process,” she said.

Danilo Zak of the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group, said in a statement Monday, following an earlier report with preliminary data, that the final number shows “steps in the right direction compared to 2021.”

“We still have a long way to go,” he said. “President Biden and Congress must continue rebuilding and resourcing our resettlement infrastructure.”

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