The Catholic Church is urging President Biden to accept a lot more refugees

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A Jesus on the cross is seen as Catholic priests of Saint Charles Missions from Latin America, the US and Canada gather to pray at the US-Mexico border fence in solidarity to migrants and against hate and indifference, in Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, on July 4, 2019.

  • Bishop Mario Dorsonville scolded Biden for not immediately raising the cap on refugee admissions.
  • “The number of refugees who will be welcomed this year is far short of what we can do as a country,” he said.
  • This year’s admissions cap is 15,000, although the Biden administration says it will raise it soon.
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President Joe Biden may attend mass every Sunday, but when it comes to welcoming more refugees he has thus far been a disappointment to the Catholic Church.

Biden campaigned on establishing a more humane immigration system, promising, in particular, to restore a refugee resettlement program that had been systematically gutted by his predecessor. Soon after taking office, the first Catholic in the White House in more than 50 years announced plans to resettle as many as 125,000 refugees in fiscal year 2021, which begins October 1.

But last week the Biden administration disappointed immigrants and their allies when it informed Congress it was not committed to raising the ultra-low cap on refugee admissions set by the last White House. Left unchanged, just 15,000 people, at most, would be resettled by the end of the current fiscal year. For comparison, the US admitted over 200,000 refugees in 1980.

Bishop Mario Dorsonville, head of the US Conference on Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, said Monday the country can do a lot more to help the world’s most vulnerable

“The number of refugees who will be welcomed this year is far short of what we can do as a country and is not an adequate response to the immense resettlement need,” Dorsonville, an auxiliary bishop in Washington, DC, and himself an immigrant from Colombia, said in a statement.

The church frequently clashed with former President Donald Trump. US bishops accused him of seeking to “instigate panic in our communities” with mass deportations, and describing his efforts to practically eliminate refugee resettlement – he launched racist attacks on Somali refugees who had already come, while his adviser, Stephen Miller, advocated slashing admissions to zero – as “counter to our values as a nation of immigrants.”

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services is one of nine nonprofit organizations that partner with the US government to meet the needs of refugees who arrive in the country. Those seeking protection from war and repression deserve compassion and assistance, it teaches, citing the “mercy of Christ, who himself was a immigrant and child of refugees.”

‘Shocked and disappointed’

Faith leaders were aghast, then, at hearing the new administration suggest it might embrace continuity on refugees, at least for now, with Protestants joining Catholics in denouncing the status quo.

Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, an Evangelic Christian group that helps resettle refugees, said he was “shocked and disappointed” by the news. By “embracing President Trump’s historically low refugee ceiling,” he said in a statement, “President Biden is betraying his commitment to build back better.”

The White House heard the uproar. Hours after appearing content to stay put, the Biden administration put out a statement reiterating that it does not plan to stick with the last administration’s refugee policy forever; it will announce a new admissions cap for the rest of this year in the coming weeks, it said. But because the resettlement program was decimated by the last administration, spokesperson Jen Psaki lowered expectations for how many will be admitted this year, walking back an earlier goal of more than 62,000.

The Catholic Church, however, is urging the administration to go big.

“We expect the administration to recalibrate and raise this ceiling,” Bishop Dorsonville said, pointing to the “unprecedented number of refugee families seeking new homes after being persecuted for religious, political, and other reasons.” The church, he added, is in fact “disappointed that it has not done so yet.”

It is not the only area of immigration policy where Biden has disappointed some Catholics. Asylum-seekers, too, have generally experienced more of the same during the first few months of this presidency. Biden has allowed unaccompanied minors to enter the US, in contrast to a predecessor who kept them on the other side of the border.

But he has otherwise maintained his predecessor’s closed-door policy, asylees included, citing a lack of infrastructure to process new arrivals, as well as the public health risk posed by increased admissions during a pandemic.

“There is an expectation that Biden would have more humanitarian policies at the border,” Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute, a Catholic group that assists migrants, recently told the Jesuit magazine America. “In practice, however, that has not happened.”

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Biden to talk migration with Mexico’s López Obrador, who spent weeks refusing to recognize the president’s 2020 victory

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The US and Mexican flags are carried side by side during a march for peace near the US/Mexico border on March 11, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico.

  • President Biden will join a “virtual event” with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
  • The two will discuss migration, COVID-19, and economic cooperation, the White House said.
  • López Obrador didn’t recognize Biden’s 2020 victory until mid-December.
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US President Joe Biden will take part in a “virtual event” Monday with his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a center-left populist who worked closely with the Trump administration to stem migration from Central America.

The March 1 meeting, announced by the White House, comes after López Obrador spent weeks refusing to recognize Biden’s 2020 victory. After his victory was formalized by the Electoral College in mid-December, however, the Mexican head of state sent Biden a letter “to express my recognition of your stance in favor of migrants from Mexico and the rest of the world.”

The two leaders then agreed on a December 19 call to collaborate on a “new approach” to migration from Central America. They also spoke soon after Biden was inaugurated.

According to the White House, Monday’s agenda includes “cooperation on migration,” as well as COVID-19 and “joint development efforts” in the Americas.

Soon after taking office, Biden announced he was ending the “Remain in Mexico” program that forced asylum-seekers to wait out their cases south of the border. He also announced that those subjected to that program would now be eligible to come to the US.

During the previous administration, Mexico closely collaborated with its top trading partner to prevent migrants from reaching the US, deploying thousands of soldiers and setting up police checkpoints across the country to arrest people coming from Honduras and Guatemala.

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Are Texas and Florida the new California and New York?

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Elon Musk is the latest high-profile tech figure to relocate from California to Texas.

  • Texas and Florida are challenging California and New York, respectively, but will they replace them?
  • Tech elites from Silicon Valley have been flocking to Texas, mirroring Big Apple financiers on the east coast fleeing to Florida.
  • They’re all seeking warm weather, affordability, and low taxes as they leave behind a higher cost of living.
  • Texas and Florida may never truly displace California and New York, but the rivalry is real, positioning the southern states as true power players.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sunnier locales, lower taxes, and a more affordable cost of living. California’s tech elite and New York’s financiers are in pursuit of all three, and they’ve found that trifecta in Texas and Florida.

Out west, there’s a Silicon Valley exodus to Texas, headlined by Elon Musk’s and Oracle’s moves to the Lone Star State. And on the east coast, there’s the Wall Street exodus to Florida, marked by the relocation of Charles Schwab himself and reports of Goldman Sachs shifting some of its operations to the Sunshine State.

The pandemic-era rise of remote work has spurred companies and the individuals who work at them to reevaluate their locations and the lifestyle that comes with them.

The migration that has ensued is transforming the no-state income tax lands of Texas and Florida into the California and New York equivalents of 2020, but really only for the time being.

Silicon Valley is headed to Texas

San Francisco’s increasingly high costs, safety, and political climate are pushing some tech elites out of San Francisco, Business Insider’s Meghan Morris and Berber Jin reported

And it’s not just the bigwigs reconsidering their lifestyle. More than a third of Bay Area tech workers said in a recent survey they’d consider leaving if they could permanently work remotely. 

While Silicon Valley’s fleeing residents have scattered everywhere from Miami to Denver, most have flocked to Texas. Austin, long the center of Texas’ tech scene, has been a hot spot in particular. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and Opendoor cofounder JD Ross are moving to the city, while companies are also relocating there, including software giant Oracle and the investment firm for venture capitalist and Palantir cofounder Joe Lonsdale.

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Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison is moving Oracle’s headquarters to Austin, Texas.

Tesla also has a Cybertruck factory under construction in the area. Its founder and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is the latest high-profile tech figure to announce a move to Texas, but it’s unclear where in the state he’s moving. 

Even Houston has been attracting tech talent, with Hewlett Packard Enterprises relocating its headquarters there from San Jose.

“There are lots of people that have already moved that haven’t been written about that are pretty high profile,” venture capitalist Keith Rabois, who headed to Miami instead of Texas, told Morris and Jin. He declined to name who else left. “Post-COVID, I think the concentration of talent has atrophied, perhaps permanently.”

He said that pre-pandemic, San Francisco’s spot at the top of the tech hierarchy outweighed his dislike for the city, but remote work has scrambled that hierarchy. 

Wall Street is flocking to Florida

While California’s tech elite are packing up their bags for the Lone Star state, New York’s financiers are trading in skyscrapers for sunshine in Florida.

Hedge fund Elliott Management is moving its headquarters to West Palm Beach. Its co-chief investment officer, Jon Pollock, has reportedly been living in his West Palm Beach home during the pandemic. Charles Schwab, founder of the eponymous brokerage and asset management giant, also relocated to Palm Beach this year, voting registration records show.

Blackstone, the world’s largest private-equity firm, headquartered on Park Avenue in Manhattan, is opening an office in Miami with plans to bring as many as 215 technology-focused jobs there. More recently, Goldman Sachs has been considering plans to shift asset management operations out of New York, Bloomberg first reported.

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Big Apple financiers are heading to spots in South Florida, such as West Palm Beach.

Business Insider recently spoke with 13 finance and real estate professionals about Florida’s ascendant appeal amid the pandemic, many of whom described an uptick in bigger and longer office-space leases by out-of-state firms and high-end real estate inventory running low as Big Apple financiers flood the area.

Stephen Rutchik, Colliers’ executive managing director of office services for the South Florida region, had told Business Insider during these talks that low taxes, warmer weather, and a low-key vibe had lured financial services firms in recent years.

But interest really popped off in July, he said, when the industry had become more comfortable with remote work. Rutchik said his team is seeing unprecedented interest, with the call volume from prospective tenants increasing “overnight” to “torrential” levels.

“We’re touring hedge funds on our agency side one to three times a day,” he added.

CA and NY are still top, but TX and FL are officially in the game

While Texas and Florida are enjoying the limelight as the new hotspots, experts say they won’t come to dominate New York’s Wall Street and California’s Silicon Valley.

Jonathan Woloshin, head of real estate and financials research at UBS, acknowledged to Business Insider that Texas and Florida have been and will continue to be the beneficiaries of further population, job, and business growth, and job inflow will contain a greater percentage of “front line” work as opposed to back office-related functions. But they aren’t necessarily the “new” California and New York, he added. 

Ron Conway, the founder of SV Angels who’s been called “the godfather of Silicon Valley,” recently told Business Insider this isn’t the end for Northern California’s dominance.

“The Bay Area’s challenges can be frustrating, to be sure, but there’s still no place on earth like the Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area when it comes to talent, access to capital, and the tech ecosystem for startups that have created so many successful companies and founders,” he said. 

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Wall Street won’t lose its grip in the long run, experts say.

Regarding Florida, several experts Business Insider previously spoke with highlighted a few challenges that could ensure the real Wall Street hangs on to its core position: a tighter labor market, expensive relocation costs, and a shortage of available luxury homes, to name a few.

Across the pond, similar fears that London would lose its luster after the Brexit vote have (so far) proved unfounded. Despite UK fund managers predicting 16% of Britain’s asset management jobs would relocate, a Financial Times survey found the majority of international banks and asset managers have actually increased their number of London employees since 2015.

California and New York may remain unparalleled in the long run, but Texas and Florida’s elevated status as the current main attractions could give the former two a run for their money.

Woloshin said that as more individual wealth becomes concentrated in Florida and Texas, it’s likely that more venture-like and private equity fund-raising and investing could occur in both states.

“New York and California are likely to remain strong business destinations given their attractiveness to the talent pool,” he said. “However, going forward, they will not be the only game in town in terms of high-quality job and wealth creation.”

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