While everyone was focused on whistleblowers, secret breakfast rants, and impeachment, the Trump administration proudly but quietly made a drastic change that will impact the world’s most vulnerable people. The number of refugees permitted to enter the United States during the 2020 fiscal year has been changed from nearly 30,000 to just 18,000, a 40% reduction. As The New York Times noted Thursday, even that paltry number is worse than it seems, as there are specific rules and allotments for the permitted refugees’ countries of origin and circumstances.
With such rigid reverse quotas in place, unexpected and unpredictable conditions could create even more refugees who will be rejected by Trump’s America.
Even that low figure may overstate the number of slots that could be open for unanticipated crises, since many of the openings have been allocated. The Trump administration will reserve 4,000 refugee slots for Iraqis who worked with the United States military, 1,500 for people from Central America and 5,000 for people persecuted for their religion, senior administration officials said. The additional 7,500 slots are for those who are seeking family unification and have been cleared for resettlement.
That will eliminate many opportunities for people fleeing war and persecution throughout the world to resettle in the United States, which until Mr. Trump took office was the world’s leading destination for refugees.
Predictably, State Department officials lauded Trump for “prioritizing the safety and security of the American people” while justifying the drastic measure that will harm the world’s most vulnerable. Additionally, citing the backlog of nearly 1 million cases, senior officials claimed that existing cases must be dealt with before the nation can resume its vow to accept the world’s tired, poor, huddled masses.
“The current burdens on the U.S. immigration system must be alleviated before it is again possible to resettle large number of refugees,” the State Department’s notice to Congress insists. “Prioritizing the humanitarian protection cases of those already in our country is simply a matter of fairness and common sense.” The insists the decision is based on “reality, not wishes,” as well as “concrete facts,” and is careful to warn of terrorists hiding as refugees.
To truly understand the cruelty of this latest edict, one has to consider the number of refugees clearly seeking safety. The latest United Nations numbers estimate that there are nearly 71 million people who have been “forcibly displaced” around the world, with a shocking 37,000 people per day forced to flee from persecution and conflict in their homelands.
With a cap of 18,000 refugees during the next 12 months, the U.S. is now telling the world that, despite Trump’s constant boasting about the greatness of this nation, there’s only room for a half-day’s worth of refugees.