Borders: A new push to limit refugees
President Trump “is dismantling the system for legal refugees,” said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial. Since taking office, he’s starved refugee resettlement agencies of funding and lowered the number of refugees that can be admitted into the country from 85,000 in fiscal year 2016 to 30,000 in 2019. Last week, he slashed the ceiling again, setting the 2020 figure at just 18,000, “a 40-year low.” He also issued an order, sure to be challenged in court, giving governors and mayors “new authority to dictate how many refugees—if any—can be resettled in their state or town.” Historically, the U.S. has “successfully absorbed millions of refugees.” Why destroy the system now and especially amid “the greatest refugee crisis since World War II,” with 70.8 million people forcibly displaced worldwide?
Actually, Trump’s policies are grounded in common sense and fiscal discipline, said Mark Krikorian in NationalReview.com. The U.S. expects a record 350,000 asylum claims in the coming year. “The only difference between refugees and asylees is that we affirmatively choose and relocate the former, while the latter show up unbidden and demand to be admitted.” So it makes sense to offset the increasing burden of asylum seekers crossing the border by lowering the refugee number. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spent $96 billion on refugees from 2005 to 2014. State and local governments are paying, too; in fact, Tennessee is already suing the U.S., arguing that “refugee resettlement amounts to commandeering the state’s resources for federal purposes.” Limiting refugees and giving states and localities the right to decide where they settle is just prudent.
Trump’s refugee reductions “betray a humanitarian tradition older than the nation” itself, said Peter Schuck in the Los Angeles Times. Since the Pilgrims stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, “America has been a haven for people fleeing persecution and hopelessness.” Now, we’re shutting the doors—including to some who aided U.S. soldiers “at grave risk to themselves and their families.” Ordinary Americans will decide how this plays out, said Alan Cross in TheBulwark.com. Will Christians defend their ministry to refugees, or “grow quiet as the door is closed to the persecuted”? By turning refugee resettlement into a local matter, Trump has given everyone a voice to register opposition. How we answer will determine whether our communities will be defined by “rejecting the vulnerable refugee and migrant.”