Cut refugee cap to 45K: WH

‘Se­cu­rity, safety of Amer­i­cans chief con­cern’

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL | WORLD NEWS ROUNDUP -

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.

Re­port

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)

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