The White House plans to formally announce that it will cap the number of refugees who will be able to resettle in the United States to 45,000, according to numerous news outlets. This is the lowest annual level set since the passage of federal legislation in 1980 that gave this power to the president. Last year, President Obama set the annual cap at 110,000, although far fewer refugees actually arrived in the United States.
According to the New York Times, there was fierce debate within the current administration as to what the cap number should be. The Times noted that White House Policy Advisor Stephen Miller suggested a cap of 15,000 while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested 50,000, and that the administration ultimately settled on 45,000. All numbers reportedly discussed were well under the previously lowest cap of 67,000 set by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
The White House has not issued a statement on the decision, and will formally announce the new cap over the coming days. However, according to Yahoo News, Trump administration officials, in a briefing to reporters while speaking under the condition of anonymity, stated that the policy will benefit efforts to shore up national security and help to properly screen all individuals admitted into the United States as refugees. Officials also pointed out that the White House would be releasing new screening and vetting procedures soon following a six-month internal review. Finally, administration officials noted that in previous years, the cap had not been reached, it would do everything it could to admit as many people as possible up to the 45,000 limit.
Meanwhile, immigrants’ rights groups and Democrats are already firing back. Linda Hartke, President of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, told CNN that “It didn’t have to be this number.” She added that it “isn’t right, and it certainly doesn’t reflect American values or the expectations of communities and local churches and people I talk to all over this country.” Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, issued a lengthy statement opposing the measure, saying that the “Trump Administration’s move to arbitrarily slash our country’s annual refugee admissions ceiling to just 45,000 is devastating to tens of thousands of innocent people, and a blow to America’s standing as the premier global humanitarian leader.”
The NMM Immigration Blog will continue to provide updates as the Administration releases new information on refugee resettlement. If you have questions about this post or other immigration topics, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.