Even though the number of refugees being admitted to the United States has reached an historic low, the Trump administration is considering reducing that number even further. The U.S. refugee program is meant to offer a chance at stability for people forced out of their homes by disasters or unrest.
Currently, the administration has set a cap of 45,000 for refugee admissions despite a worldwide surge in refugees. The push for an even lower cap is apparently being led by senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who has advocated a cap of 15,000. However, the New York Times indicates that the proposal being considered would only drop the cap to 25,000 — a 40 percent drop from the previous level.
Although this year’s cap is 45,000, the U.S. is only on track to resettle approximately 21,000 refugees.
According to the Times, the fate of the refugee program likely hinges on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Since the current refugee program was authorized in 1980, past secretaries of state have traditionally been strong advocates of it regardless of party affiliation. Pompeo, however, appears to share Miller’s sentiments on the admission of refugees.
According to a White House official who refused to be identified, the argument for limiting help for refugees is based on the administration’s belief that there is a “migration crisis” gripping the nation. Instead of offering resettlement to refugees, the administration is weighing the entire caseload of humanitarian cases and prioritizing asylum seekers who are already in the United States.
As the unnamed official noted, there is at least a 700,000-case backlog in asylum applications. He then asserted without evidence that “most asylum seekers are illegal immigrants” who create high costs and security issues.
“Far more people can be assisted, and much more safely, through humanitarian aid and resettlement in or near their home countries,” the official said. That might be the case if potential refugees could afford to stay put in or near their home countries.
Under the 1980 Refugee Act, the president is tasked with determining an annual cap on refugee admissions. This is supposed to be done in consultation with Congress.
Historically, the refugee program has enjoyed strong bipartisan report. In a May letter to Mike Pompeo, a dozen Democratic senators decried signals that “this administration intends to continue dismantling our nation’s already crippled refugee program, with little regard for both the real-life and geopolitical implications of the policy.”
If you are seeking asylum or refugee status in the U.S., an immigration attorney may be able to help you. Contact Yew Immigration Law Group for experienced assistance with any immigration matter.