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Citizenship

Trump White House Wants to Cut Refugee Number to Another Historic Low

Why Global Citizens Should Care
There are more refugees today than at any other point in recorded history. During this ongoing global catastrophe, the US should be expanding its aid, not reducing it. You can take action on this issue here.

The administration of US President Donald Trump is mulling another reduction in the number of refugees who are allowed to resettle in the country each year, according to the New York Times.

Last year, the Trump administration reduced the number of eligible refugees by more than half, lowering the quota from 110,000 to 45,000. Less than half that many refugees have so far been resettled this fiscal year, putting it on track to set a record for the fewest accepted refugees in a year, according to the Refugee Processing Center.

The shrinking quota comes at a time when there have never been more refugees in recorded history. Currently, there are 25.4 million refugees and 40 million people who are internally displaced in their home countries. The largest source of refugees in recent years has been from Syria, and the US has only accepted 11 Syrian refugees in 2018.

The administration may reduce the quota for fiscal year 2019 to 25,000, according to White House insiders who spoke with the Times, so that resources can instead be allocated to processing asylum cases. There are currently more than 700,000 asylum cases waiting to be heard in court.

Take Action: Call on Leaders to Adopt Global Compacts for Refugees and Migrants, Everywhere

“In determining an appropriate refugee ceiling for 2019, the administration will consider the entire humanitarian caseload, legal and illegal — including asylum-seeking refugees, non-asylum seeking refugees, and other categories such as special immigrant juveniles, unaccompanied alien minors, temporary protected status, and other related programs,” the anonymous official said in a statement.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has temporarily banned refugees from applying for resettlement, banned people from various countries from traveling to the US, and cut funds from refugee programs.

Asylum cases have been denied under Trump at higher rates than in the past, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has restricted the grounds on which a person can claim asylum.

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The administration also embarked on a widely criticized campaign of “zero tolerance” that separated children from their families and put them in detention centers, and denied asylum seekers even the opportunity to make a case for safety.

And recently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has allegedly been weighing whether to eliminate his agency’s refugee office, which works with organizations around the world to improve humanitarian operations.

Pompeo is allegedly the person who will decide whether to further reduce the refugee quota for fiscal year 2019.

Read More: This Is What It Actually Costs Countries to Accept Refugees

Advocates for refugees have called on the administration to maintain current levels of refugee aid, and challenged any claims that the government is overburdened.

“The issue is not either the need internationally or ability to process these refugees, it’s the administration’s will,” Mary Giovagnoli, the director of Refugee Council USA, told the Times. “There’s a continued concentration of power in the hands of folks who don’t support a robust refugee program.”