US slashes the number of refugees it will allow in
By CAROL MORELLO
THE UNITED States will admit no more than 30,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said, the lowest number in decades and a steep cut from the 45,000 allowed in this year.
The new number is a small fraction of one percentage point of the almost 69 million displaced people in the world today. But Pompeo said the United States remains the most generous nation when other US aid to refugees is taken into account, including funds to shelter and feed refugees in camps closer to their home countries.
Mr Pompeo said the lower cap should not be the “sole barometer” of American humanitarian measures, but “must be considered in the context of the many other forms of protection and assistance offered by the United States.”
In raw numbers, the US accepts more refugees than other countries. In per capita terms, however, the US lags far behind several less-populated countries such as Canada, Australia and Norway.
Mr Pompeo said the new ceiling would be less than a third of the 110,000-refugee cap in place when President Donald Trump came to office. The new number is the lowest level of annual refugee admissions allowed since the Refugee Act was passed in 1980.
It does not necessarily mean that 30,000 refugees will be admitted in the 2019 fiscal year, which starts next month. This year, for example, fewer than 20,000 refugees had been resettled by August 31, less than half the current cap.
Mr Pompeo said another cutback in refugees — for the third year in a row — was needed because of a backlog of 800,000 pending asylum seekers. In the past, asylum seekers and refugees have been treated as two separate categories of people fleeing conflict and persecution. Under international law, countries are obligated to admit asylum seekers, though a judge can reject their cases and deport them. Refugees have already been accepted.
In his first year in office, President Trump set the cap at 50,000 before cutting it to 45,000, and now again by a third.
According to the International Rescue Committee, the number of refugee admissions is down dramatically for Christians, Muslims, Yazidis and Rohingya.
A protest in California after President Donald Trump barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.