President Trump on Saturday gave his signature to a plan to cap the number of refugees taken in by the United States at 18,000 in fiscal year 2020. This number represents the lowest amount of possible refugees accepted by America since the program’s creation in 1980.
Religious and humanitarian groups complained about the plan when it was first introduced by the State Department in September.
The Trump administration this year agreed to let in as many as 30,000 refugees. In contrast, the final year of the Obama administration allowed for the refugee ceiling to be 85,000.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Saturday statement that refugee resettlement “is only one aspect of U.S. humanitarian-based immigration efforts.”
The Secretary of State cited diplomatic efforts to find solutions to crises as well as humanitarian aid.
As the White House prepares to finalize the fiscal year’s refugee cap at 18,000, the lowest number since the program was created four decades ago, many of the nearly 200 Congolese who settled in Missoula have answered desperate calls from relatives who have waited years in camps in Uganda or Tanzania for refuge in the United States. One woman has been pleading with community leaders to help her son, who recently emerged from a coma and is now alone in a camp. A local preacher prepared his three children to go to the airport last month to welcome their uncle, only to find out the morning of the arrival that the flight had been canceled.
Trump has made restricting refugee admissions part of his broader goal to limit immigration. This fiscal year’s 18,000 is down from the 30,000 let in between October 2018 and September 2019, and that was a fraction of the 110,000 that President Barack Obama offered refuge in the 2017 fiscal year.
The decreasing of the program comes as the number of people fleeing violence and persecution in the world totaled 70 million last year, the highest recorded since World War II, according to the New York Times.
Credit: NY Post