Trump Administration Caps 2021 Refugee Intake At Lowest Level Ever

(Photo by GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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The Trump Administration set a limit of 15,000 refugees that can be taken in by the United States in 2021 in an overnight memo from the President, Reuters reported. 

The number for fiscal year 2021, which began this month, is the lowest in the modern history of America’s refugee program, according to Reuters. This continues the trend of the administration curbing refugee intake every year since 2017. President Trump first informed Congress of the plan earlier this month, and now it’s official. 

The limit of 15,000 refugees includes 6,000 unused placements from fiscal year 2020, which went unused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reports. The move from Trump comes just a week before his 2020 re-election bid; his Democrat opponent Joe Biden has pledged to raise the number of refugees brought to the United States to 125,000.

In the memo, Trump said that refugees should only be placed by the State Department in places that are open to receiving them, per Reuters. Some state governments have refused to take refugees in the past, a decision the Trump Administration has allowed them to make. Refugees should be “resettled in communities that are eager and equipped to support their successful integration into American society and the labor force,” Trump said in his memo. 

Fiscal year 2020 had a limit of up to 18,000 refugees that could be admitted, with tens of thousands of applications being slowed by increased vetting from the Trump Administration and tighter immigration restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, per Reuters.

The 2021 plan bans refugees from Somalia, Syria, and Yemen outside of cases of “special humanitarian concern,” Reuters reports. The 15,000 spots will be allocated as follows, according to the White House memo: 5,000 for refugees facing religious persecution, 4,000 for Iraqis who have helped the United States, 1,000 for El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and 5,000 for others.