Cut refugee cap to 45K: WH
‘Security, safety of Americans chief concern’
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Sept 28, (Agencies): The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed admitting a maximum of 45,000 refugees next year, the lowest cap in decades, which officials said was necessary to ensure US security, although Democrats and humanitarian groups blasted the decision as an abandonment of American moral authority.
That figure is the lowest cap since the modern US refugee admissions system was established in 1980, and the administration’s decision was harshly criticized by refugee advocates who say it ignores growing humanitarian crises around the world. The report also projects slashing funding to the refugee resettlement program by 25 percent.
“The security and safety of the American people is our chief concern,” a US official said in a call with reporters on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We have every plan to process as many refugees as we can under this ceiling.”
A second US official said the administration is considering a “wide range of potential measures and enhancements” to refugee vetting, in accordance with a January executive order from President Donald Trump, though the official gave no further details.
The lower refugee cap is a continuation of Trump’s hardline stance on immigration. He made the issue a focus during the presidential campaign, advocating for a wall along the US border with Mexico and the deportation of immigrants in the country illegally, and saying that Syrian refugees fleeing their country’s civil war present a security threat to the United States.
The proposed refugee limit represents a cut of more than half from the refugee ceiling set last year by former President Barack Obama, and is much lower than the 75,000 limit suggested by refugee advocates this year. It is also lower than the 50,000 cap Trump set in an executive order shortly after he took office in January.
The administration proposed taking
will not be able to ignore the largest, most diverse state in the nation as they seek our country’s highest office.”
The bill was passed mostly along party lines in the majority-Democrat legislature. in a maximum of 19,000 refugees from Africa, 5,000 from East Asia, 2,000 from Europe and Central Asia, 1,500 from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 17,500 from the Middle East and South Asia.
Many national security experts argue that refugees do not present a danger to the United States because they are already among the most highly vetted immigrants to gain admittance to the United States, going through a grueling process that takes 18 to 24 months on average.
Democratic Representatives John Conyers and Zoe Lofgren said the administration’s decision “is an abdication of our moral authority, and an abandonment of the very values that make America great.”
Republican Representative Raul Labrador, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee, said in a statement the lower cap sets a “more manageable level” for refugee admissions.
The Wednesday report said that at the end of 2016, the estimated refugee population worldwide reached 22.5 million, an increase of 1.1 million in just one year.
Administration officials said one reason for the lower cap is that Department of Homeland Security staff are being re-directed to deal with a growing backlog of cases of people already in the United States and seeking asylum for fear of persecution. The State Department report said there are now nearly 300,000 asylum applications pending with DHS.
Refugees, as opposed to asylees, apply to come to the United States while they are still overseas. DHS officials who specialize in processing refugees abroad are being re-assigned to handle asylum cases in the United States, a change from previous practice.
Officials warned that the final number of refugees allowed to come into the United States next year will depend on DHS’ “interviewing capacity.”
“But this number was reached after taking a look at these requirements,
The new date will leave the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in place as the first and second contests of the presidential election cycle, during which voters in each state choose the candidate and we believe that we can get into the ballpark of this number, of this ceiling,” one US official said.
There are at least 58,000 refugees who were ready for travel under the 2017 fiscal year quota and weren’t able to come to the United States because of Trump’s lower 2017 cap, said Jen Smyers, of the refugee resettlement agency Church World Service. Of those, around 22,000 already had guarantees from agencies that handle refugee resettlement in the United States, she said.
Those who are accepted for resettlement in the United States are selected by the United Nations refugee agency from among the most vulnerable displaced people.
Widows with children, the elderly and the disabled are given priority and subjected to a thorough screening process by US security and intelligence agencies.
The process takes between 18 months and two years, and only then are the refugees assigned to resettlement agencies working under contract with the State Department.
The agencies help families find housing and employment, mainly in small and medium cities around the United States.
Nevertheless, Trump has ordered a security review to further tighten procedures, slowing acceptances.
The International Refugee Assistance Project, part of the New Yorkbased Urban Justice Center, condemned the announcement as a case of the United States abdicating its leadership role on humanitarian issues at time when the world is grappling with the largest number of refugees since World War II.
“Resettlement is only an option in the most urgent refugee cases,” said Betsy Fisher, IRAP’s policy director.
“It’s hard to comprehend why the administration would move to limit resettlement, when the need is greater than ever. We are abandoning desperate people in life-or-death situations, including children with medical emergencies, US wartime allies, and survivors of torture.”
they would like their party to nominate for president. (RTRS)
Zuckerberg fires back at Trump:
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg fired back at US President Donald Trump on Wednesday after he accused the leading social network of being “always anti-Trump.”
Zuckerberg rejected the notion, countering that Facebook is working to ensure “free and fair elections” with an online platform that does not favor one side over another.
Zuckerberg’s post at Facebook came after Trump accused the social network of bias in a morning tweet that read:
“Facebook was always anti-Trump. The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?”
Early morning Twitter tizzies have become a hallmark of Trump’s presidency.
“Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump,” Zuckerberg said in his post.
“Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”
Facebook last week said that Russialinked ads on the social network aimed at inflaming tensions around last year’s US presidential election will be given to Congress.
The ads sought to sow discord among Americans on hot-button social issues. (AFP)