The United States has a long history of supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Until the Trump administration took office, the United States was the single largest country for refugee resettlement in the world. In most years prior to 2017, about half of all refugees who were resettled to a developed country came to the United States.

Soon after taking office, however, the Trump administration began an unprecedented rollback of US support for global refugees. By comparison, in the last year of the Obama administration the White House authorized the resettlement of over 100,000 refugees in the US. In the last year of the Trump administration that number was not to exceed 15,000.

Beyond refugee issues, the Trump administration has enacted policies the Southern US border that also upended decades of US policy on granting asylum to people fleeing persecution.

With Trump leaving office, the incoming administration has an opportunity to reset America’s approach to refugees, asylum seekers and international migration more broadly.

On the line with me to discuss some of the concrete steps the incoming Biden-Harris administration may take on these issues is Nazanin Ash, vice president for global policy and advocacy at the International Rescue Committee  We kick off discussing the ways in which refugee and asylum policy have historically enjoyed bi-partisan consensus before discussing the ways in which the incoming Biden-Harris administration can re-assert US leadership on these issues, including through some key multi-lateral platforms.

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Today’s episode is produced in partnership with the Better World Campaign as part of a series  examining the opportunities for strengthening multilateral engagement by the new Biden-Harris administration and the incoming 117th Congress. To learn more and access additional episodes in this series, please visit

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