September 20, 2018
Abandon hope, all ye who would enter here: President Donald Trump plans to cap the number of refugees allowed into the United States over the next year at 30,000, the administration announced on September 17. That represents an historic low for the program, which resettles foreigners fleeing from war, violence, and persecution.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the changes, according to a report by BuzzFeed —saying the cut reflected the “daunting operational reality” of processing the growing backlog of U.S. asylum claims.
“In consideration of both U.S. national security interest and the urgent need to restore integrity to our overwhelmed asylum system, the United States will focus on addressing the humanitarian protection cases of those already in the country,” Pompeo said.
The cap, which will go into effect in October, is the lowest it has been since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which standardized resettlement services nationwide. Once the ceiling is reached in fiscal year 2019, America will no longer allow refugees to enter the country — even if they meet the requirements of the program.
The refugee resettlement cuts represent the latest in a long series of efforts by Trump to deter both legal and illegal immigration, BuzzFeed said. Just weeks after taking office in 2017 the POTUS fulfilled his campaign promise of “extreme vetting”—suspending the refugee program entirely for 120 days, part of a broader executive order banning travel and immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries.
Since then, the president has scaled back refugee admissions dramatically, lowering the refugee cap to 45,000 in 2018, down from 110,000 the previous year. And with two weeks to go in the fiscal year, the administration has admitted just 20,918 refugees — less than half the number allowed under the current cap.
In a statement on September 18, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chastised the Trump administration for not consulting with Congress before setting the cap, saying, “While I appreciate the administration’s commitment to protecting national security and public safety by proposing a refugee cap…it is imperative the agencies abide by their statutory mandate to consult with Congress before any number is proposed. Yet, for the second year in a row, the administration has willfully ignored its statutory mandate to inform and consult with Congress, including designated members of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, about the number of refugees to be admitted during the next fiscal year.”
Federal law requires an in-person consultation with Congress by a cabinet official before any presidential determination can be issued. Last year, Grassley and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) also rebuked the administration for a lack of consultation ahead of the annual refugee cap announcement.
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