US to slash refugee re­set­tle­ment pro­gram by 40 per­cent

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States plans to dra­mat­i­cally lower the ceil­ing on a decades-old refugee re­set­tle­ment pro­gram to 18,000 peo­ple, of­fi­cials said Thurs­day, blam­ing the in­flux of mi­grants along the coun­try’s south­ern bor­der for im­pos­ing too great a bur­den.

It rep­re­sents a re­duc­tion of 40 per­cent from its cur­rent level of 30,000 peo­ple, al­ready a record low, threat­en­ing Amer­ica’s his­toric po­si­tion as the most gen­er­ous des­ti­na­tion for those flee­ing war and per­se­cu­tion.

“A re­spon­si­ble ap­proach to refugees is one that seeks the even­tual re­turn of refugees to their home coun­tries so that they can help to re­build their own na­tions,” said Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in a state­ment an­nounc­ing the move.

It added that un­der a new or­der, refugees would only be re­set­tled in ju­ris­dic­tions where state and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties con­sent.

A sep­a­rate re­lease by the State Depart­ment said the “cur­rent bur­dens on the U.S. im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem must be al­le­vi­ated be­fore it is again pos­si­ble to re­set­tle large num­bers of refugees.” It said the in­flux of mi­grants along the coun­try’s south­ern bor­der was a “cri­sis” for im­pos­ing “an ex­tra­or­di­nary bur­den.”

As a means of serv­ing U.S. for­eign pol­icy in­ter­ests, refugee ad­mis­sions have spe­cific al­lo­ca­tions for peo­ple per­se­cuted for re­li­gious be­liefs, Iraqis whose as­sis­tance to the U.S. puts them in dan­ger, and “le­git­i­mate refugees” from the North­ern Tri­an­gle: Gu­atemala, Hon­duras and El Salvador.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion con­sults with Congress be­fore fi­nal­iz­ing refugee ad­mis­sions changes but in re­al­ity the de­ci­sion-mak­ing power falls un­der the White House.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has made crack­ing down on im­mi­gra­tion, both le­gal and il­le­gal, a core pol­icy, guided by his hard­line ad­vi­sor Stephen Miller.

The cur­rent level of 30,000 is al­ready the low­est since the pro­gram’s in­cep­tion in 1980. The num­ber stood at al­most 85,000 when Trump’s pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama left of­fice.

Mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cacy groups re­acted with dis­may.

“This is a very sad day for Amer­ica,” said David Miliband, CEO of the In­ter­na­tional Res­cue Com­mit­tee.

“This de­ci­sion rep­re­sents fur­ther dam­age to Amer­ica’s lead­er­ship on pro­tect­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple around the world,” he added.

The IRC added that the U.S. cur­rently has 30,000 peo­ple who have al­ready un­der­gone in­ter­views for re­set­tle­ment, far above the new ceil­ing, with 9,000 ready for travel.

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