Since taking office, Donald Trump and his Administration have implemented a sweeping anti-immigrant agenda that has involved multiple Muslim bans, mass deportations, the termination of DACA, the cancellation of temporary protected status (TPS) for multiple groups — and a dramatic reduction of the number of refugees admitted into the U.S.
So far this year, only 5,000 refugees have been admitted. This year’s cap on refugees is 45,000, the lowest level in decades, though at the current rate of admissions, it’s possible that only 20,000 refugees will be brought in all year.
The decrease in refugee admissions is part of Trump’s plan to implement a nativist, ethno-centric agenda which has long been pushed by hate groups. And Trump’s Administration is behind him: chief of staff John Kelly, who used to oversee the Department of Homeland Security, once said that if it were up to him, he would admit between zero and one refugee into the U.S. each year.
Trump and his Administration act like refugees are an inherently dangerous people and the United States is magnanimous in accepting any at all. But refugees undergo a rigorous screening process and multiple reports have found that they are beneficial to the U.S. economy. Moreover, the entire history of the United States involves welcoming in immigrants who were seeking opportunity or safety that they couldn’t find in their home country. Trump and his Administration are, in essence, barring the next generation of Americans.
Donald Trump and refugee admissions
Since taking office, Donald Trump has significantly curtailed refugee entry into the U.S. by:
- Slashing refugee admissions into the United States to 45,000 people per year
- Issuing an executive order pausing the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program for four months (from June to Oct. 2017), including a near-total suspension of admissions from 11 countries
- Instituting stricter vetting requirements, requiring officials to rescreen refugee applicants who already had been through the process and slowing admissions down
- Suspending its policy of admitting family members of refugees
Only 5,000 refugees were admitted into the U.S. within the first three months of fiscal year 2018. In Trump’s first presidential year, 33,368 refugees settled in the U.S., half the number accepted in 2015, and about a third of 2016 numbers.
The Trump Administration’s cap of 45,000 refugees per year is the lowest since the Refugee Resettlement Program was created by Congress in 1980. It was a Republican president, Ronald Reagan, who authorized the highest refugee cap at 217,000 admissions, in comparison to around 70,000 to 80,000 under the Obama and Bush Administrations.
However, under the current pace of admissions, the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. this year is likely to be closer to 20,000 — well below the 45,000 cap.
As Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a written statement, admitting so few refugees shows Trump’s continued callousness toward immigrants:
Setting a record-low refugee admissions level is more evidence of the Trump administration’s indifference and lack of humanity toward thousands of vulnerable refugees who have been forced to flee their home countries through no fault of their own.
“It’s enormously discouraging and dispiriting, and it is another reflection of this administration’s march away from the principle of humanity,” said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, who ran the refugee program at the State Department during the Obama Administration.
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