Margaret O’Sullivan remembers frantically trying to hide the condoms.

Scott Lloyd, the Trump administration’s fiercely antiabortion director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, was due any minute at the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia.

“We ran to the men’s room to grab them out, fearful he’d cut our funding,” the NSC executive director said of that 2018 visit. “That’s what it was like trying to navigate through Trump world.”

Now there’s wide hope at NSC and other agencies around the Biden administration’s plan for a robust return to welcoming some of the world’s most vulnerable people to new homes in the region.

Trump squeezed the admission of refugees to a series of record lows, down to a maximum of 15,000 a year. Biden intends to raise the cap to 125,000.

This month he issued an executive order to rebuild and enhance the program, saying it promotes stability in unsettled regions and encourages nation-to-nation cooperation amid the worst refugee crisis since World War II. It reinforces America’s long, if frayed, standing as “a beacon of hope for persecuted people around the world,” the president said.

Today, an estimated 26 million people have been forced from their homelands by war, persecution, or natural disaster, according to the United Nations. Unable to return, they depend on agencies like NSC to help them land safely, if not easily, in this and other countries.

“We are so fired up. We are so fired up,” O’Sullivan said. “We’d like Philadelphia to set the bar high in how it’s done. … We’ve got a great community, a great, welcoming community.”

In anticipation of new neighbors arriving as early as spring, NSC is assessing its staffing, reactivating volunteers, engaging corporate partners, and broadening its Amazon wish list — refugees need safety and security, but they also need sheets, towels, blankets, and kitchen utensils.

The national resettlement program never actually stopped; it just slowed to a trickle. NSC kept going — and kept families going — even as admissions fell and the pandemic surged. Three staffers were laid off. About $500,000 was raised in donations. Foundation givers stepped forward.

The results of resettlement are life-changing. Now living in Southwest Philadelphia, Okubamichael Gebregergish said simply: “I was in danger.”

He fled from his homeland of Eritrea, a northeast African country of 3.2 million that’s controlled by one of the world’s most repressive regimes. It has no constitution, elections, or independent judiciary, and even a hint of political activism can get someone arrested, tortured, or killed. Disappearances, rape, and murder are used to instill fear and control, according to a 2016 United Nations Inquiry.

Young men are particularly at risk, facing conscription into indefinite military service and forced labor. Several hundred Eritreans have been resettled in Philadelphia during the last decade, and they’re mostly men like Gebregergish, now 38.

He fled first to Sudan, then to Libya, and then Malta, from where he was resettled, one of 1,917 Eritreans admitted to the United States in 2017 as Donald Trump slashed admissions. His wife and children remain overseas.

“I’m fine. It’s better,” said Gebregergish, who works driving for Uber. “The government, they gave me the opportunity to work, but I hope my family can be brought here.”

The United States was long the world leader in resettlement, admitting more refugees each year than all other countries combined, but surrendered that standing under Trump. Now Canada leads.

Who comes to this country, and more specifically to Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, depends largely on what’s happening in the world, what places are in crisis. And on who is president.

Near the end of the Obama administration, Syrians were resettled amid the country’s ruinous civil war. People also came from Bhutan and Myanmar.

In 2016 some 794 refugees were resettled in Philadelphia, the most since 2002, and Syrians ranked first at 245, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. During 14 years from 2002-16, the largest numbers were from Bhutan (1,446), Liberia (1,355), Myanmar (1,256), and Iraq (1,148), Pew said.

Under Trump, the refugee population became not just smaller, but whiter and more Christian.

President Barack Obama’s last-year cap of 110,000 refugees was cut to 50,000 in 2017, then 45,000 in 2018, to 30,000 in 2019, to 18,000 last year, and, in October, to 15,000.

Some 444 refugees were resettled in Pennsylvania in fiscal 2020, with most coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, at 104, while 90 came from Ukraine, according to State Department statistics. In the following five months, 57 refugees came to Pennsylvania, led by 20 from Ukraine.