Biden EO Commits to Groundbreaking Improvements to U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

Today, Refugees International strongly endorsed President Biden’s Executive Order on Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration.

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, said:

“As a former head of the U.S. government’s refugee program, I was heartened by President Biden’s Executive Order on refugee admissions and climate change and migration. I was also humbled, as the president’s action represents the most comprehensive commitment to enlightened policies and practices on refugee resettlement and inclusion since the adoption of the current U.S. Refugee Admissions program some four decades ago. This is not hyperbole—the EO not only envisions a fundamental reversal of abusive policies of the past four years, but the implementation of a broad range of fundamental improvements that have been long overdue and that will help secure the well-being and rights of those forced to flee persecution, violence, and disasters.”

The EO recognizes that delays in administering the U.S. Refugee Admissions program—including through discriminatory procedures—raise grave humanitarian concerns that the program is itself designed to combat. The EO seeks to ensure, for the first time, substantial procedural safeguards for those applying for refugee status, and addresses issues such as access to counsel, explanation for denials, the ability to appeal, and access to resettlement for life partners who have been unable to marry or to register their marriages. The EO also encourages enhanced community involvement in resettlement, including expanded public-private partnerships. The EO’s section on climate change and migration marks a new commitment to seriously explore additional options for protection and resettlement of those forced to migrate due to climate change.

Refugees International looks forward to engaging the new administration on these critical measures.


To arrange an interview, please contact Refugees International Director of Communications Sarah Sheffer at or +1 202 540 7029.

Banner photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images.