Donald Trump caps refugee admissions in 2018 to historic low
Figure of 45,000 is lowest requested by a president in over three decades and less than half the 110,000 cap issued by Obama in 2016
Donald Trump intends to cap Americas annual refugee admissions at a historic low , marking the administrations latest crackdown on immigrants from some of the worlds most vulnerable groups.
A US state department report seen by the Guardian shows that the administration has briefed Congress it will admit just 45,000 refugees in 2018, the lowest number requested by any president in over three decades and less than half the 110,000 cap issued in the last year of the Obama administration.
The report references the presidents travel ban that was issued in March that called for more stringent vetting of refugees, who already face strict security checks which can see processing take on average between 18-24 months.
While maintaining the United States leadership role in humanitarian protection, an integral part of this mission is to ensure that refugee resettlement opportunities go only to those who are eligible for such protection and who do not present a risk to the safety and security of our country, the report states.
The announcement comes just days after the president issued a series of indefinite travel restrictions for eight countries, the latest iteration of Trumps travel ban, which critics argue deliberately targets Muslim travellers.
Since 1980 the White House has placed an annual ceiling on the number of refugees allowed into the US. The previous low, issued by Ronald Reagan in 1986, was 67,000 admissions.
Migrant advocacy groups, many of whom assist in resettling refugees, condemned the move.
Resettlement is only an option in the most urgent refugee cases, said Betsy Fisher, policy director for the International Refugee Assistance Project. Its hard to comprehend why the administration would move to limit resettlement, when the need is greater than ever. We are abandoning desperate people in life-or-death situations, including children with medical emergencies, US wartime allies, and survivors of torture.
The move was also met with bipartisan criticism in Congress. Republican senator Chuck Grassley and Democrat Dianne Feinstein said in a rare joint statement they were incredibly frustrated to have been told at the eleventh-hour of the administrations decision.
Federal law requires a cabinet official consult with Congress before a ceiling is decided. But a meeting between lawmakers and the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, was only scheduled on Wednesday, just days before the start of the 2018 fiscal year in October when the cap will come into force.