Donald Trump Plans to Slash U.S. Refugee Admissions

The White House Will Slash the Number of Refugees Accepted Into the US to an All-Time Low

US President Donald Trump's administration announced Wednesday it would slash the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States.

This would represent a severe reduction in the United States' refugee admissions ceiling, and amount to an abandonment of global leadership for the United States. Also, asylum applicants who meet threshold criteria are allowed to wait inside the US while their applications are considered, while refugees are often living in desperate conditions.

The administration had been considering a ceiling somewhere between 40,000, which the Homeland Security Department recommended, and 50,000, the State Department's preferred level, according to officials.

Notably, this cap does not include an "unallocated reserve" quota for the administration to respond to unforeseen upticks in refugees, according to the CNN. Additionally, the make-up of refugee demographics has been significantly altered, with more Christian than Muslim refugees being admitted for resettling. "It's tragic", said Mr Robert Carey, former director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement under former president Barack Obama.

"With historically high numbers of innocent people fleeing violence worldwide, the United States' response can not be to welcome a historically low number of refugees into our country", said Bill O'Keefe of Catholic Relief Services. Of those, around 22,000 already had guarantees from agencies that handle refugee resettlement in the United States, she said. Former President Barack Obama had placed a 110,000 limit on refugees a year ago, in part to take in a growing number of Syrian refugees displaced around the world.

Some White House officials, including Stephen Miller, Trump's top policy adviser and an immigration hawk, had sought to set next year's cap as low as 15,000. The report said officials expect to have a backlog of more than 300,000 such cases early in fiscal year 2018. The new figure appears to be a compromise that Cabinet officials felt would be palatable to the president.

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While the report does not say assimilation will be a primary factor, that it is a consideration at all is a major policy change from previous years, when the basis of the program was on the need of refugees for protection.

The United States is still the world's biggest destination for refugees, but arrivals are well down from a high of more than 200,000 in 1980. They said no decision was final until formally announced by the president.

The administration does not reveal which countries are more likely to send refugees that could meet the new "assimilation" criteria.

That would be the lowest refugee admission ceiling since the law establishing the ceiling was first put in place. "The United States can also help a larger number of refugees by resettling them in their home region and enabling their eventual safe return home".

In recent years, the number of refugees admitted has closely matched the cap, though there have been times, particularly during the George W. Bush administration, when admissions were well below the maximum. That review period ends October 24. Republican lawmakers praised Mr Trump's refugee limit, saying it would help safeguard national security.

In a speech to the United Nations, Trump thanked Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Syrian conflict, and described the United States as a "compassionate nation" that has spent "billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort".

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