Trump Might Cap Refugee Admissions At Lowest Level In Decades

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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The Trump administration is weighing whether to limit refugee admissions for the next fiscal year to less than 50,000, which would be the lowest level since at least 1980.

Citing security concerns about the vetting process for refugees, President Donald Trump set the annual refugee cap at 50,000 in a January executive order that also temporarily banned travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Now, current and former officials familiar with the discussions say the White House is looking to maintain that level or possibly set an even lower number for Fiscal Year 2018, reports the New York Times.

Deliberations over refugee limits come as the Supreme Court stayed a lower court ruling against the administration’s travel ban Tuesday, allowing the government to stop resettlement of any refugees that don’t have close family or business ties in the U.S. As a result of the order, some 25,000 refugees are temporarily barred from resettlement. (RELATED: Supreme Court Hands Trump Another Travel Ban Win)

The Refugee Act of 1980 gives presidents wide latitude to set limits on refugee admissions. Since the law was enacted, the annual quota for worldwide refugee resettlement int the U.S. has averaged 94,000, according to State Department figures. Until this year, the lowest ceiling had been 67,000 under former President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Former President Barack Obama sought to boost annual refugee admissions, raising the FY2017 cap to 110,000 before leaving office. Trump cut that number by more than half in his January order.

Within the administration, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and Department of Homeland Security officials are reportedly urging Trump to make deep cuts in refugee admissions, while State and Defense Department leaders are opposed to a precipitous drop.

Two administration officials told TheNYT that the DHS does not want to expend time and resources to settle large amounts of refugees while immigration authorities cope with an enormous backlog of asylum seekers.

During a Tuesday meeting at the White House, DHS officials recommended the refugee cap for FY2018 be set at 40,000, TheNYT reported. Trump has until Oct. 1 to consult with Congress and make a decision on the final number.


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