The Trump administration decreased the cap of refugees accepted into the United States for the fiscal year of 2019 to 30,000. This is a sharp decrease from the cap of 45,000 in 2018.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on September 17 that the number would be slashed to the lowest it has been since the U.S. Refugee Act was introduced in 1980, when more than 200,00 refugees were being admitted into the country, reported The Guardian.
“In consideration of both U.S. national security interests 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 with the announcement, blaming a backlog of asylum seekers for the number.
The cap is also drastically lower than the Obama administration, which was at 110,000 refugees in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected.
While the Trump administration had decided on a cap of 45,000 in 2018, the State Department released data showing only about 20,000 refugees were admitted into the U.S. With two weeks left until October 1, the end of the fiscal year, the chances of completing remaining requests remains slim, according to USA Today.
The move has drawn ire from Democrats and Republicans alike.
“People will be harmed,” Bob Carey, director of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) from 2015 to 2017, told The Guardian. “People will die.”
Carey believes the low cap may be an attempt by the Trump administration to decrease protections provided to refugees fleeing violence, persecution, and war.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley expressed concern about the Trump administration’s failure to seek counsel from Congress.
“It is imperative the agencies abide by their statutory mandate to consult with Congress before any number is proposed,” Grassley said, according to The Hill. He added that this was the second year in a row that the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee had been left out of the decision.
Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also released a statement criticizing the low number.
This cap is part of a long history of the Trump administration’s widely scrutinized policies regarding immigration.
The Trump administration proposes a cap of 30,000 refugee admissions in the 2019 fiscal year, in what would be the lowest cap ever set in refugee admissions program's 43-year history https://t.co/nOScDhtRWM pic.twitter.com/vgcY0zJoiL
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 19, 2018
Over a six-month period, the U.S. has been separating migrant children from their families and keeping them in detention facilities, along with denying visas for Iraqi translators who worked with the U.S. military, reported Reuters.
Further, a Republican aide told Politico the Trump administration may be trying to freeze $3 billion in foreign aid before October 1, after which the use of the money will expire.
The U.S. has consistently been one of the top destinations for refugees, with about 75 percent of the world’s refugees aiming to travel to the U.S., reported The Guardian.
The UN also reports that despite 19.9 million refugees in 2017, less than 1 percent were resettled.
The Guardian spoke to Paedia Mixon, CEO of New American Pathways, a resettlement agency. Mixon has been noticing a loss in revenue and governmental support in the humanitarian work the company does.
“It looks like they are trying to remove certain types of people from the country, which is what most of our refugees are trying to flee from – a government that would remove you based on who you are, what you look like, where you are from,” said Mixon.