Trump slashes refugee cap to lowest number in decades

Oscar Cross
September 29, 2017

While the cap is low - it represents far less than 1 percent of the 22.5 million people counted as refugees - it does not necessarily reflect the actual number of refugees who are admitted to the U.S.in a year.

Refugees undergo extensive background checks, and new directives from President Trump could compel USA agencies to make those checks even more stringent.

The report said that the refugee population has been increasing, and the US, in particular, has been wrestling with more people who make their way to the country and seek asylum once they are here.

President Donald Trump is expected to announce the cap on refugee admissions following a lengthy debate within his administration about whether to go higher or lower.

State Department officials would have been inclined to set their recommendation higher, several of the people said, but were taking their cues from the president's executive order and felt that 50,000 was the highest number that would be palatable to him. The new figure appears to be a compromise that Cabinet officials felt would be palatable to the president.

No more than 45,000 refugees will be allowed into the country over the coming year under the new plan, less than half the number proposed by the Obama administration for the current fiscal year. Last year, then-President Barack Obama announced the USA would take in at least 110,000 refugees, up from 85,000 in the previous year. Additionally, the make-up of refugee demographics has been significantly altered, with more Christian than Muslim refugees being admitted for resettling. Obama had said the USA would welcome 110,000 refugees in the 2017 fiscal year.

Officials warned that the final number of refugees allowed to come into the United States next year will depend on DHS' "interviewing capacity".

"If you enter the USA on an global flight from anywhere in the world and there's a refugee family or individual on that aircraft, that individual is the most thoroughly vetted individual on that aircraft", added Michael Breen, president and CEO of the Truman National Security Project.


The caps set a top limit, and the US does not always reach the cap.

The number was a compromise, The Hill reported, noting senior policy adviser Stephen Miller pushed for only 15,000.

Trump has advocated keeping refugees closer to their homes.

But the White House argued the United States will continue to be "the largest refugee resettlement country in the world". Moreover, as reflected in a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research and the bulk of scholarship in this area, the economic benefits provided by refugees-who also help to revitalize local communities-outweigh the financial costs to the United States in supporting their resettlement.

Across the world there were 22.5 million refugees previous year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

But the new cap of 45,000 has already come under fire from refugee agencies. "It's really moving away from the commitments the government has had for protections of refugees from both Republican and Democratic administrations", he said. The lowest level was in 2002, after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when only 27,131 refugees were admitted. That review period ends October 24.

He had also taken aim at German chancellor Angela Merkel for allowing more than a million refugees into Germany in 2015 at the height of the refugee crisis.

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