Trump Plans 45,000 Limit on Refugees Admitted to U.S.

That was the number that Mr. Trump had laid out in his original travel ban executive order issued during his first week in office in January, while the Department of Homeland Security had suggested 40,000.

A Historically Low Cap on Refugees

President Trump will lower the cap on refugees admitted to the United States to 45,000 for the 2018 fiscal year, down from the 110,000 cap set by President Barack Obama before he left office. Mr. Trump had previously ordered that the country admit no more than 50,000 refugees in 2017.

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Both numbers were far lower than the 110,000 limit President Barack Obama had placed on refugees last year, and the 75,000 limit resettlement agencies said was necessary to begin to meet humanitarian needs around the world.

But Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state, ultimately lowered his recommended limit to 45,000, the people said, and that was the number presented to Mr. Trump.

The White House declined to comment on the decision or on the deliberations surrounding it.

Refugee assistance groups reacted with outrage to the anticipated cap, calling it a departure from the American tradition of welcoming immigrants in times of need.

“Today a dark shadow has passed across the great American legacy and promise of protecting refugees,” said Linda Hartke, the president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of nine agencies — most of them faith-based — that partner with the United States government to resettle refugees. “The threat of a drastically low ceiling on refugee arrivals in the U.S. is contrary to American values and the spirit of generosity in American churches and communities.”

The decision on refugees was the second time this month that Mr. Miller, a champion of the hard-line immigration policies that Mr. Trump made a centerpiece of his campaign, did not succeed in his effort to impose the strictest of policies. He also failed to persuade the president to immediately end the Obama-era program that protects immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, shielding them from deportation and allowing them to work.

But in both cases, Mr. Miller’s efforts made a difference.

Mr. Trump did announce early this month that he would end the so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program within six months, although he said he would work with Democrats on a compromise measure to codify the protections. And while the president did not set the refugee cap as low as Mr. Miller had advised — at one point, he argued no more than 15,000 should be admitted — holding the refugee limit below 50,000 was a statement in and of itself.

Mr. Miller and other advocates of reducing refugee admissions had worked for months to justify doing so, even rejecting internal government research that found that refugees have a positive impact on the nation’s fiscal condition. Instead, they argued that vetting refugees to insure they do not pose a terrorism threat and adjudicating their resettlement applications are too costly and burdensome, and that once in the United States, they become a drain on American resources that could be better spent assisting persecuted people closer to their home countries.

Refugee resettlement groups say there is no evidence to support such concerns.

“Setting a record-low cap on refugee resettlement, the White House is showing a stunning cruelty toward those fleeing our common enemies — enemies who intend to paint the U.S. as indifferent to refugees’ suffering,” said Hans Van de Weerd, vice president of United States programs at the International Rescue Committee, another of the nine resettlement agencies.

He called on Congress to oppose “what would amount to an abandonment of U.S. global and strategic leadership, and decency.”

On Monday, 34 senators — all Democrats except for John McCain of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — wrote to Mr. Trump pleading for a cap higher than 50,000, calling the refugee program “a critical pillar or our national security and our foreign policy.”

“The current global humanitarian crisis requires strong American leadership,” the senators wrote, calling for a “robust refugee admissions goal.”

The same day, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wrote to Mr. Kelly and Tom Price, the secretary of Health and Human Services, requesting more information, including a briefing with White House officials by next week, about whether the administration suppressed the agency’s study finding that refugees were on balance a fiscal benefit.

Continue reading the main storySource: New York Times – Politics

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