The U.S. is on pace to admit the fewest number of refugees since the years immediately following the 9/11 attacks, as the Trump administration’s enhanced vetting has slashed resettlement from many war-torn countries.
In the first three months of fiscal year 2018 — October, November and December — about 5,300 refugees were admitted, according to State Department data released last week.
If that pace continues through the end of FY2018, annual admissions will total roughly 26,000, far below the cap of 45,000 set by the Trump administration in September. Refugee resettlement last fell below 30,000 in 2002 and 2003, amid heightened concerns about terrorist attacks against the U.S. homeland.
As The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported, the lower number of refugees is the result of more restrictive screenings and a near ban on resettlement of people from 11 countries, including heavy refugee producers Iraq, Somalia and Syria. Refugees from those countries, which were the subject of a 90-day security review, were only admitted if they could show their resettlement was in the “national interest” of the U.S.
People from the countries under review — which also include Iran, Egypt, Libya, Mali, North Korea, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen — were just 5 percent of all refugee admissions in the first three months of the fiscal year. More recently, refugees from those countries made up about 40 percent of annual admissions.
The religious composition of resettled refugees has also changed along with their geographical origins. People who identified as Muslim composed about 14 percent of refugees admitted so far in FY2018, compared to about 40 percent in recent years, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Historically, U.S. refugee admissions have ebbed and flowed in response to world crises and domestic security concerns. The Refugee Act of 1980 gives the president wide latitude to set the annual refugee admissions cap and to determine which countries or regions will receive special consideration.
State Department officials say the pace of admissions over the first three months of FY2018 may not predict the number for the full year. In 2016, 16 percent of refugees came in the first quarter, compared to nearly 50 percent in the first three months of 2017, according to State Department figures.
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