In a speech to a Jesuit group, US president-elect Joe Biden has promised to reverse the Trump administration’s steep cuts to the US refugee intake.

– “We’re safer, stronger and a better country” because of the contributions of refugees and immigrants, president-elect tells Jesuit Refugee Service

Biden made the announcement in a prerecorded video aired November 12 as part of virtual celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the Jesuit Refugee Service.

“I’m so happy to join with all of you in celebrating Jesuit Refugee Service on its 40th anniversary. This is a great organization. This organization was founded to serve the needs of some of the most vulnerable among us – refugees and displaced people”, the president-elect said in his video.

“JRS believes that in the stranger we actually meet our neighbor and that every society is ultimately judged by how we treat those most in need”, Biden continued.

“The United States has long stood as a beacon of hope for the downtrodden and the oppressed, a leader in resettling refugees in our humanitarian response. I promise, as president I’ll reclaim that proud legacy for our country”, pledged the Democratic candidate for the presidency, who is expected to be sworn in on January 20, 2021.

Biden promised that along with vice-president-elect Kamala Harris he would “restore America’s historic role in protecting the vulnerable and defending the rights of refugees everywhere and raising our annual refugee admission target to 125,000”.

That 125,000 number is a far cry from the figures of the Trump administration, which reduced the annual US refugee admissions ceiling from its 1980-2017 average of 95,000 to 45,000 in 2018, 30,000 in 2019 and 18,000 in 2020.

In his address to the JRS, Biden recalled that “as we spreak, refugees and immigrants are working on the frontiers of this devastating pandemic, as doctors, nurses, researchers and farm workers”.

“We’re safer, stronger and a better country because of their contributions”, the president-elect celebrated.

“Together we must all work towards a more resilient, inclusive and hopeful future for our world. May God bless the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service, may God bless the United States of America and may God protect our troops”.

– JRS welcomes announcement, says “significant” that new president “speaks in the language of social justice”

Giulia McPherson, the director of advocacy and operation at JRS USA, welcomed the announcement of an augmented refugee intake under the incoming Biden-Harris administration, and explained that “that he chose to make this announcement with us tonight is an indication that President-elect Joe Biden is following his faith when it comes to American policy to protect and welcome refugees”.

“Not only is it exciting that the United States will once again welcome refugees at an historically high number, but it is also significant that we are hearing the President-elect speak in the language of social justice about the rights of refugees and our call as people of faith and as Americans to accompany them to safety”, McPherson celebrated.

– Biden speaks with Pope Francis, thanks pontiff for “leadership in promoting peace”

In the meantime, in further news on president-elect Biden, his office confirmed Thursday that the politician had spoken that morning with Pope Francis.

“President-elect Joe Biden spoke this morning with His Holiness Pope Francis”, read a press release from Biden headquarters.

“The President-elect thanked His Holiness for extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation for His Holiness’ leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world.

‘The President-elect expressed his desire to work together on the basis of a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities”, the Biden press release concluded.

More news on Novena from the US:

Ecumenical Patriarch, Asian Catholic Bishops express “delight and pride” at “refreshing” ascent of Biden to US presidency

Catholic women congratulate Kamala Harris on becoming US vice-president elect, hope her example will filter into Church

US Bishops congratulate Biden-Harris, call on politicians “to come together in a spirit of national unity” post-election

Analysis: Biden has won the US election. Now begins his real test – to unite the nation


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.