The Trump administration considers dropping the refugee cap to its lowest number in recent history
The White House is considering dropping the refugee limit for the next year below 50,000, a quota that hasn't been seen since at least 1980, The New York Times reports. In a meeting Tuesday, Homeland Security officials reportedly suggested a limit of 40,000.
"When you get down to some of the numbers that are being talked about, you get down to a program of really nugatory levels," said David Miliband, the president of the International Rescue Committee. "It's not an exaggeration to say the very existence of refugee resettlement as a core aspect of the American story, and America's role as a global leader in this area, is at stake."
In addition to a ban on travel from seven majority-Muslim countries, Trump dropped the cap on refugees to 50,000 days after taking office. He will soon need to announce a new cap, as required by the Refugee Act of 1980. But since the Refugee Act was passed, the average quota for refugees has been 94,000. In 1986, it hit its lowest recent level under former President Ronald Reagan, who set a cap of 67,000.
There are a number of major refugee crises unfolding around the world: An estimated 5 million people have fled from Syria and recently close to 400,000 Rohingya people have left Myanmar due to what appears to be an unfolding genocide. But supporters of lower refugee admittance numbers argue that the most useful way to help displaced people isn't through resettlement in America.
"One senior administration official involved in the internal debate over refugees described the move to curtail admissions as part of a broader rethinking of how the United States deals with migrants, based on the idea that it is more effective and affordable to help displaced people outside the nation’s borders than within them, given the backlog of asylum seekers and other immigrants already in the country hoping to stay," The New York Times writes.
"Refugee resettlement is just a way of making ourselves feel better," argued the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, Mark Krikorian.