Several top officials in President Donald Trump’s administration are making a push to drastically reduce the number of immigrants coming legally and illegally into the United States, as well as significantly lowering the cap of refugees admitted.
The administration ultimately settled on a 45,000 cap for refugees for the 2017 fiscal year, which marked the lowest number since the program started in 1980, according to Politico.
While the numbers fluctuated over those months, White House officials are telling Politico that at one point, Trump suggested lowering the cap to just 5,000 for the fiscal year, which was lower than the already historical suggestion by senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, who offered 15,000.
One former White House official cited in the report said that the number would in fact probably be as low as 15,000 by 2019, and that a group of administration aides would be meeting next week to discuss the refugee cap for 2019.
“Miller is not deterred,” the source told Politico. “He is an adamant believer in stopping any immigration, and the president thinks it plays well with his base.”
Miller, known for his hawkish push for the zero-tolerance policy, and a few other advisors are moving forward with strict immigration discussions despite the blowback the administration, as well as the country, received after the family separation fiasco.
Miller and some other hardline immigration advisors are continuing to have closed-doors meetings and reaching out to Cabinet officials in an effort to persuade them on their strict immigration plans.
“Inside the Washington beltway, this is a numbers game that’s being carried out by people who don’t care about refugees and are orienting this to their base,” Anne Richard, former assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration in the Obama administration, told Politico.
Another White House official in the report said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) similarly has plans to be stricter on immigrants after they’re already in the country by increasing their focus on worksite enforcement.
ICE has already doubled its worksite enforcement investigations by double, going from 1,716 worksite investigations to 3,510 worksite investigations in respective fiscal years, according to an official ICE report issued in May.
In terms of Trump pushing immigration conversations to appeal to his base, a Gallup poll released on July 18 revealed the number of Republicans who say immigration is the number one issue in the country doubled over recent months. (RELATED: Immigration Reformers Applaud GOP-Led Effort To Lift Per-Country Green Card Gaps)
The poll says 35 percent of Republicans are focused on immigration as the main issue in July, up from 17 percent in May.
The percentage of Democrats who feel immigration is the main issue in the U.S. also rose from 4 percent in May to 18 percent in July.
Trump tweeted Sunday that he would be willing to shut down the government if Democrats didn’t work with Republicans over immigration issues, specifically border security.
“I don’t care what the political ramifications are, our immigration laws and border security have been a complete and total disaster for decades, and there is no way that the Democrats will allow it to be fixed without a Government Shutdown,” Trump also tweeted Tuesday.
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