US to admit only 30,000 Refugees - History

US to admit only 30,000 Refugees - History

On September 18, 2018 the Trump Administration announced that only 30,000 refugees will be allowed to enter the US in 2019. This is down from 45,000 in 2018.

The Trump administration announced on September 17, 2018, that it would limit the number of refugees admitted into the United States in 2019 to 30,000. This is down from 45,000 in 2018 and from 110,000 in the last year of the Obama Administration. According to Secretary of State of Pompeo who announced the decision, there are a total of 800,000 people currently waiting to be approved as refugees into the United States.

The refugees have been granted admission to the United States under the provision of the Refugee Act of 1980. That act accepted the definition of a refugee as that used by the UN for whom is a refugee. Since the law was passed, the United States has always authorized the entry of more than 30,000 refugees. During the Bush administration, the US had authorized 70,000 refugees a year, however, in the year following 9/11 2002, only 27,000 refugees were settled and only 28,000 the following year before resuming a normal annual rate.

Reducing immigration has been a significant policy goal of the Trump Administration, and while illegal immigration has been where the rhetoric has been directed, the administration has been working to decrease legal immigration as well.


Myths and Realities of the US Refugee Policy

Last month the Trump administration announced that it would admit no more than 30,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year. This will be the lowest ceiling in decades, though the fact that fewer than 22,000 refugees have been admitted under this year&rsquos quota of 45,000 suggests that next year&rsquos numbers are likely to be even lower than the announced cap. The administration&rsquos announcement provided the backdrop to the National History Center&rsquos latest congressional briefing on the history of US refugee policy.

Cuban refugees on a boat arriving in Florida as part of the Mariel Boatlift around 1980. A recent National History Center congressional briefing focused on the history of US refugee policy. US Department of Homeland Security/Wikimedia Commons

Modern American refugee policy has its origins in the aftermath of World War II. In order to aid the postwar recovery of its allies, the United States agreed to admit a number of displaced persons, making an exception to its strict controls on immigration. This ad hoc policy was soon regularized in response to the Cold War. In his remarks at the briefing, Carl Bon Tempo of SUNY Albany, an authority on Cold War refugee policy, noted that preference was given to refugees fleeing communist countries, including Hungarians in the 1950s, Cubans in the 1960s, and Vietnamese in the 1970s. Others, such as Haitians, were not welcome. Nonetheless, a substantial portion of the American public&mdashmeasured at 30&ndash35 percent in most polls&mdashwere consistently opposed to or skeptical of the admission of any refugees. Some feared that the policy would allow communist sleeper agents into the country. Opinions on the issue cut across political, religious, and racial lines. In short, refugee policy was controversial even when it was cast in terms of Cold War national interest.

The passage of the 1980 Refugee Act laid the legal foundation for the current refugee policy. The act drew on the UN definition of the refugee as someone who cannot return to his or her home country &ldquobecause of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.&rdquo Maria Cristina Garcia, a distinguished historian of US immigration and refugee policy at Cornell University, summarized US refugee policy since 1980 in her briefing presentation. Candidates for admission as refugees go through a rigorous vetting process that usually takes 18&ndash24 months. The largest annual intake of refugees was 207,000 in 1980. Since 9/11, however, national security concerns have increasingly overridden humanitarian considerations, resulting in stricter admission criteria and smaller annual quotas. The president has the power under the Refugee Act to set those quotas (this is the &ldquopresidential determination&rdquo), and it should come as no surprise that the current administration has used that power to slash admissions.

Garcia and Bon Tempo dispelled some of the myths that surround US refugee policy. Perhaps the most prevalent derives from Americans&rsquo sense of themselves as a people uniquely welcoming to &ldquoyour huddled masses yearning to be free.&rdquo While the United States has admitted a larger number of refugees in recent decades than other wealthy countries, we don&rsquot measure up in per capita terms. Moreover, the vast majority of the 69 million people currently displaced from their homelands will never gain admission to the United States or its counterparts. They have fled to neighboring countries, which lack the resources to absorb them. Most of them are housed in camps, and it is not uncommon for these camps to remain in operation long enough to harbor several generations of refugees. Rather than admit more than a tiny fraction of these displaced peoples, American policy has focused on financial assistance for the humanitarian agencies that help shelter and feed them&mdashthough, once again, the Trump administration has adopted a more hostile stance, most notably by halting the US contribution to the UN agency that provides Palestinian refugee assistance.

The presenters also pointed out that many Americans fail to understand that refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants comprise distinct categories of border crossers, with different policies determining their prospects for entry to the country. Most immigrants are admitted to the United States through family sponsorship, while others come on work and student visas. Asylum seekers, unlike refugees, request protected status after having entered the country, either by crossing the border on temporary visas or without authorization. Their success depends on where they seek asylum&mdashtheir chances are far better in San Francisco, for example, than, say, in Mobile, Alabama&mdashand on whether they have legal counsel. Only 11 percent of those without legal representation are successful in their asylum claims. As Bon Tempo observed, the increase in asylum seekers can be seen as an unintended consequence of the cutback in the number of refugees.

The briefing&rsquos closing message was a mixed one. Both Garcia and Bon Tempo expressed hope that the United States&rsquo humanitarian commitment to refugees from political oppression will endure. The moderator of the briefing, American University&rsquos Alan Kraut, echoed these sentiments, framing them in the context of the Jews who escaped the Holocaust. Yet the speakers also reminded us that opposition to immigrants in general and refugees in particular has been a deeply rooted and widely held feature of American politics. In this respect as in others, the Trump administration has harkened back to a well-established tradition.

Dane Kennedy is the director of the National History Center.

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The American Historical Association welcomes comments in the discussion area below, at AHA Communities, and in letters to the editor. Please read our commenting and letters policy before submitting.


Trump Authorizes US to Admit 30,000 Refugees in Fiscal Year 2019

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a determination authorizing the United States to admit 30,000 refugees in 2019.

"The admission of up to 30,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest," the determination said.

Although Trump authorized 45,000 refugees in 2018, less than half the quota had been admitted by the end of August &mdash one month before the fiscal year ended on September 30, immigration officials announced earlier.

​In April, the Trump White House announced its zero-tolerance policy, promising to pursue criminal charges to the fullest extent of the law against those who cross the US-Mexico border without correct documentation.

Yearly refugee admissions during the Obama administration averaged about 75,000.

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IMBALANCES

In the past year, the administration has tightened security vetting procedures that current and former officials say have slowed admission of refugees.

Ryan Mace, a refugee specialist at Amnesty International USA, urged Congress to oppose the decision as it finalizes fiscal-year 2019 appropriations.

“The Trump administration is abandoning this country’s promise to refugees,” said Mace. “Today’s announcement demonstrates another undeniable political attack against people who have been forced to flee their homes.”

In addition to far lower admissions overall, the type of refugee admitted has changed under Trump, a Reuters analysis of government data shows. The percentage who are Muslim is now a third what it was two years ago, while the percentage who are Europeans has tripled.

The shift has led to striking imbalances. Refugees admitted to the United States from the small European country of Moldova, for example, now outnumber those from Syria by three to one, although the number of Syrian refugees worldwide outnumbers the total population of Moldova.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati Editing by Peter Cooney and Dan Grebler


Trump to Cap Refugees Allowed Into U.S. at 30,000, a Record Low

WASHINGTON — President Trump plans to cap the number of refugees that can be resettled in the United States next year at 30,000, his administration announced on Monday, further cutting an already drastically scaled-back program that offers protection to foreigners fleeing violence and persecution.

Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, announced the limit at the State Department, saying it reflected the “daunting operational reality” of addressing what he called a “humanitarian crisis” involving people claiming asylum in the United States.

The number represents the lowest ceiling a president has placed on the refugee program since its creation in 1980, and a reduction of a third from the 45,000-person limit that Mr. Trump set for 2018.

The move is the latest in a series of efforts the president has made to clamp down on immigration to the United States, not only through cracking down on those who seek to enter the country illegally, but by making it more difficult to gain legal entry.

It is also the culmination of a quiet but successful effort by Stephen Miller, the president’s senior policy adviser, to severely restrict the number of refugees offered protection inside the country. As one piece of his broader push to narrow a variety of legal pathways for migrants to make their way into the United States, Mr. Miller had pressed for capping the program at as low as 25,000 people, according to people familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.

Others inside the administration, including in the Department of Defense and, initially, the State Department, had supported maintaining the 45,000-refugee ceiling, these people said.

Mr. Pompeo, who was pivotal to the decision, had privately argued last month for keeping the number where it was, they said. He kept his final recommendation for a deep cut under wraps until Monday afternoon, when he announced it from the Treaty Room of the State Department.

In doing so, he adopted an argument made privately by Mr. Miller: that the United States needed to prioritize hundreds of thousands of people who have arrived at the United States border, claiming a credible fear of returning home, rather than refugees overseas who have already officially qualified as in need of protection and resettlement in another country.

“Some will characterize the refugee ceiling as the full barometer of America’s commitment to vulnerable people around the world,” Mr. Pompeo said. “This would be wrong.”

“This year’s refugee ceiling reflects the substantial increase in the number of individuals seeking asylum in our country, leading to a massive backlog of outstanding asylum cases and greater public expense,” he added.

Mr. Pompeo said refugees had to be weighed against a backlog of 800,000 asylum seekers who are awaiting a decision by immigration authorities about whether they qualify as in need of protection under United States law and will be granted status to remain.

But he vastly overstated the numbers, while making a linkage between two groups of immigrants that are not the same and are processed differently. As of the end of June, the Department of Homeland Security reported just under 320,000 people who had claimed asylum — meaning they had passed an interview conducted to verify that they met the “credible fear” threshold to be considered — and were awaiting a decision from the department about whether they could stay.

About 730,000 additional immigrants were waiting for their cases to be resolved by immigration courts, according to the Justice Department, including people who had asked for asylum after being apprehended. But that number also included people in deportation or other immigration proceedings. Those are not all “humanitarian protection cases,” as Mr. Pompeo described them some may never be granted asylum and some will be removed from the United States.

Immigrant and advocates condemned the cuts to the refugee program, calling it a callous decision that would also undermine American national security and foreign policy priorities.

Nazanin Ash, the vice president for policy and advocacy at the International Rescue Committee, accused the Trump administration of piling on after attacks on the American asylum system, failing to protect unaccompanied minors at the border and withdrawing temporary protected status for Haitians, Salvadorans, Hondurans and others.

“This was an opportunity for the administration to show its humanitarian heart,” Ms. Ash said.

“In justifying its policy intention, the administration has pitted those seeking asylum against refugees,” she said. “The administration has the resources it needs to effectively administer both programs, as historic admissions levels prove.”

The cap does not require the Trump administration to resettle 30,000 refugees in years past, governments have accepted far fewer than what is legally permitted.

During the administration of President George W. Bush, for example, the program’s ceiling accepted up to 70,000 refugees annually it was raised to 80,000 during his final year in office. But the government only resettled about 27,000 refugees in 2002, immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and accepted 28,000 the following year.

Mr. Trump, who campaigned promising a “Muslim ban,” and argued for a halt to the admission of Syrian refugees because he argued that they could be a danger to the country, has targeted the refugee resettlement program for cuts since his first days in office.

His travel ban, imposed a week after he was sworn in, temporarily halted the program and limited the number of refugees that could be resettled in the United States to 50,000. That slashed the program from the 110,000 cap that President Barack Obama had put in place before he left office.

Last year, Mr. Miller led an effort, with the support of John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, to cut the program even more, to as low as 15,000.

But pushback from Defense and State Department officials, as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff and members of the United States mission to the United Nations, who advocated maintaining the 50,000 level, resulted in a ceiling of 45,000.

Even then, the administration has managed to slow refugee admissions to a trickle, admitting only 20,918 this year — less than half of the limit the president proposed.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the goal of this White House is to cripple the U.S. refugee program,” said J. Kevin Appleby, the senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies.

“Not only do they reduce the number to record-low levels, they have no intention of even meeting that number during the fiscal year,” he said. “It further weakens our moral authority and leadership in the world.”

Mr. Pompeo said the reduced cap was a security imperative, resurrecting Mr. Trump’s original argument for shutting down the program, and suggested that the slower pace of admissions was due to the extra vetting the administration put in place when it restarted the refugee program last fall.

“We must continue to responsibly vet applicants to prevent the entry of those who might do harm to our country,” Mr. Pompeo said. “The American people must have complete confidence that everyone granted resettlement in our country is thoroughly vetted. The security checks take time, but they’re critical.”

He cited the case of an Iraqi refugee arrested in California last month who prosecutors said was a member of the Islamic State wanted for murder in Iraq. The man entered the United States in 2014, years before the Trump administration tightened vetting procedures.


US To Sharply Limit Refugee Flows To 30,000 In 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday the United States would cap the number of refugees allowed into the country at 30,000 for fiscal-year 2019, a sharp drop from a limit of 45,000 it set for 2018.

"We proposed resettling up to 30,000 refugees under the new refugee ceiling as well as processing more than 280,000 asylum seekers," Pompeo said in an announcement at the State Department, calling the United States "the most generous nation in the world when it comes to protection-based immigration."

"This year's proposed refugee ceiling must be considered in the context of the many other forms of protection and assistance offered by the United States," he said.

Refugee advocates quickly condemned the lower cap.

"Today's announcement . is a shameful abdication of our humanity in the face of the worstrefugee crisis in history," Jennifer Quigley, of Human Rights First, said in a statement.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo waves to the media before his meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 8, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the decision "cruel and short sighted." He said reducing the cap would "do untold damage to our nation’s values and countless lives across the world."

Pompeo said the new limit reflected the administration's preference for settling refugees closer to their home countries, something President Donald Trump has said would be cheaper than admitting them to the United States.

Pompeo said the decision was also based on security concerns. "We must continue to responsibly vet applicants to prevent the entry of those who might do harm to our country," he said.

Officials at the State Department and the Pentagon initially supported maintaining the cap at 45,000, according to one former and one current official. It was unclear whether they changed their position as the debate proceeded or failed to persuade the White House.

The refugee ceiling of 45,000 set last year was the lowest since 1980, when the modern refugeeprogram was established. The United States is on track to admit only 22,000 refugees this year, about half the maximum allowed.

Trump campaigned in 2016 promising tight restrictions on immigration, and his administration has sharply reduced refugee admissions through executive orders and closed-door decisions in the past year and a half.

In the past year, the administration has tightened security vetting procedures that current and former officials say have slowed admission of refugees.

Ryan Mace, a refugee specialist at Amnesty International USA, urged Congress to oppose the decision as it finalizes fiscal-year 2019 appropriations.

"The Trump administration is abandoning this country’s promise to refugees," said Mace. "Today’s announcement demonstrates another undeniable political attack against people who have been forced to flee their homes."

In addition to far lower admissions overall, the type of refugee admitted has changed under Trump, a Reuters analysis of government data shows. The percentage who are Muslim is now a third what it was two years ago, while the percentage who are Europeans has tripled.

The shift has led to striking imbalances. Refugees admitted to the United States from the small European country of Moldova, for example, now outnumber those from Syria by three to one, although the number of Syrian refugees worldwide outnumbers the total population of Moldova.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati Editing by Peter Cooney and Dan Grebler)


President Joe Biden announced Friday his administration would be keeping in place the refugee cap implemented under his Republican predecessor at 15,000 people. This breaks with an earlier pledge made by the Biden administration to raise admission.

In February, Biden Secretary of State Tony Blinken told Congress the White House was preparing to raise the cap on refugees to admit more than 60,000 people, up from Trump’s historic low which Vice President Kamala Harris condemned as a senator. The Trump administration’s initial cap at 30,000, was even too low for Harris in 2018.

This Administration continues to turn its back on refugees, now capping the number at 30,000 — the lowest number since the program began in 1980.https://t.co/Ex0xhya2fb

&mdash Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 18, 2018

Efforts to lower the number of refugees in the United States even provoked the California progressive to characterize the Trump administration as complicit in atrocities abroad similar to the holocaust of the early 20th-century.

During the Holocaust, we failed to let refugees like Anne Frank into our country. We can't let history repeat itself.

&mdash Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 27, 2017

Harris consistently vilified the Trump administration’s decision to lower refugee caps as abandoning moral leadership and pledged to be an advocate for refugees.

Turning our backs on millions of refugees is a dark moment in American history. We have abandoned our moral leadership on the world stage. https://t.co/M9yp98v8WV

&mdash Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2017

To immigrants and refugees being targeted by Trump:

You are not alone.
We are fighting for you.
We will not abandon you.
Don’t give up. pic.twitter.com/kpp750YMSM

&mdash Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2017

To our brothers, sisters, and friends in immigrant and refugees communities at home and all across the world — know that you are not alone.

&mdash Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 28, 2017

Biden’s decision not to raise the historically low cap on refugees marks a significant reversal from his campaign pledge to “reassert America’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees” as the former vice president signaled early on to be the president of open borders. Despite the cap on refugees remaining at the Trump-era low, a crisis at the southern border from Central and South American migrants who took their cues from Biden’s rhetoric and early actions has escalated to compromising border security and overwhelming detention centers.


Despite promises, Biden on pace to accept far fewer refugees than Trump

By Igor Derysh
Published April 14, 2021 6:14PM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

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The United States is on pace to accept the fewest number of refugees in more than 40 years despite President Joe Biden's vow to boost resettlement levels to historic highs.

Initially, Biden entered office with a flurry of executive actions rolling back many of former President Donald Trump's immigration policies. Trump had decimated the refugee resettlement program, which limited the number of refugees at 110,000 the year he entered office, cutting the cap to just 15,000 on his way out. Biden then announced his intent to raise the cap to 62,500 for the fiscal year ending in September and double that for the following fiscal year. But even though such a move would only require his signature, Biden has yet to issue any executive actions raising the ceiling on admissions and the White House has curiously continued to dodge questions about the delay.

Without any action from Biden's White House, the country is set to accept the lowest number of refugees since the resettlement program began in 1980, according to a report from the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit humanitarian aid group.

The US has admitted just 2,050 refugees halfway through the fiscal year and is on pace to admit only 5,410 refugees through September, well below the 11,814 admitted in Trump's final fiscal year and the 15,000 cap imposed by Trump for this fiscal year.

"There has now been an unexplained and unjustified eight-week delay in issuing the revised refugee admissions policy," the IRC report said. "This delay means that highly restrictive and discriminatory Trump-era policies remain firmly in place. As a result, tens of thousands of already-cleared refugees remain barred from resettlement and over 700 resettlement flights have been cancelled, leaving vulnerable refugees in uncertain limbo."

The report also criticized Biden for leaving in place Trump's October executive action banning the resettlement of most refugees from Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, arguing that the Biden administration is continuing to deny refugees "fleeing the world's worst displacement crises." It also argued that by refusing to raise the refugee cap the administration was neglecting to use a "critical tool" to address the rise in migrants at the Southern border, noting that the US has accepted just 139 refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

"With more than 1.4 million refugees in need of resettlement worldwide and fewer than 1 percent of all refugees ever considered for this life-saving program, no admissions slot should go unfilled," the report said.

"I don't know the specific reason why [Biden] hasn't signed, and it's really unusual that he hasn't signed," Nazanin Ash, the vice president for global policy and advocacy at IRC, told The Washington Post. "It is typically a standard, automatic last step in the process."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has repeatedly avoided answering questions about the timeline to raise the admissions ceiling.

"It's an issue he remains committed to," she told reporters on Monday.

State Department spokesman Ned Price echoed that talking point but told the Associated Press that there is a "great deal of rebuilding that needs to take place in order to have a refugee program that allows us to achieve what we wanted to achieve in a way that is both effective and that is safe."

Ash argued that Trump administration policies targeting refugees from Muslim-majority countries "are nothing short of discriminatory" and, as a result of the extensive nature of refugee vetting, have no implications for security or other concerns.

"They were simply put in place by the Trump administration to restrict refugee admissions and in particular to restrict the admission of black, brown, Asian and Muslim refugees," Ash told the Post.

More than 100 elected state and local officials last week joined advocacy groups in calling on Biden to immediately raise the cap to 62,500 for the second half of the fiscal year.

"At least 80 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes and among them are more than 29 million refugees," the letter said. "Despite this, only a tiny fraction will ever be afforded the chance for resettlement to a third country, like the United States. Now is the time for your administration to fulfill its commitment to human rights and refugee protection only then can we urge the global community to also do their part."

Journalists have also repeatedly called out Biden for delaying an increase his administration touted in the weeks after he took office.

"The numbers are a blatant betrayal of Mr. Biden's public commitment, and they have real-world impacts," The Washington Post editorial board wrote on Wednesday, noting that pregnant women seeking refuge may soon be unable to fly and clearances for other refugees may also expire before the delay ends. "In the meantime, the suffering will only deepen for Iraqis who assisted U.S. Special Operations forces, Syrians fleeing civil war's devastation, and Somalis, Congolese and others eager to build new lives after having escaped the world's most shattered places… The optics are bad enough. The actual costs, in real distress and suffering, are incalculable."

"This is not, presumably, what most Americans thought they were getting when they elected Biden," wrote Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell, adding that the numbers suggest the "most anti-refugee president in modern history may not be Donald Trump. Right now, it's looking like Joe Biden."

HBO host John Oliver also excoriated Biden over the delay on Sunday, slamming the White House for failing to provide a "straight answer from this administration on why" and leaving hundreds of eligible refugees "beholden to Trump's low admission ceiling and bullshit racist rules."

"For Biden, this is actually really simple… He just needs to sign a piece of paper," he said. "And for a guy who clearly wanted to be the person who restored the soul of America, it is past time to for him to look deep into his own, pick up a fucking pen, and do the right thing."

Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.


U.S. to sharply limit refugee flows to 30,000 in 2019

By Lesley Wroughton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday the United States would cap the number of refugees allowed into the country at 30,000 for fiscal-year 2019, a sharp drop from a limit of 45,000 it set for 2018. "We proposed resettling up to 30,000 refugees under the new refugee ceiling as well as processing more than 280,000 asylum seekers," Pompeo said in an announcement at the State Department, calling the United States "the most generous nation in the world when it comes to protection-based immigration." "This year's proposed refugee ceiling must be considered in the context of the many other forms of protection and assistance offered by the United States," he said. Refugee advocates quickly condemned the lower cap. "Today's announcement . is a shameful abdication of our humanity in the face of the worst refugee crisis in history," Jennifer Quigley, of Human Rights First, said in a statement. Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the decision "cruel and short sighted." He said reducing the cap would "do untold damage to our nation’s values and countless lives across the world." Pompeo said the new limit reflected the administration's preference for settling refugees closer to their home countries, something President Donald Trump has said would be cheaper than admitting them to the United States. Pompeo said the decision was also based on security concerns. "We must continue to responsibly vet applicants to prevent the entry of those who might do harm to our country," he said. Officials at the State Department and the Pentagon initially supported maintaining the cap at 45,000, according to one former and one current official. It was unclear whether they changed their position as the debate proceeded or failed to persuade the White House. The refugee ceiling of 45,000 set last year was the lowest since 1980, when the modern refugee program was established. The United States is on track to admit only 22,000 refugees this year, about half the maximum allowed. Trump campaigned in 2016 promising tight restrictions on immigration, and his administration has sharply reduced refugee admissions through executive orders and closed-door decisions in the past year and a half. IMBALANCES In the past year, the administration has tightened security vetting procedures that current and former officials say have slowed admission of refugees. Ryan Mace, a refugee specialist at Amnesty International USA, urged Congress to oppose the decision as it finalizes fiscal-year 2019 appropriations. "The Trump administration is abandoning this country’s promise to refugees," said Mace. "Today’s announcement demonstrates another undeniable political attack against people who have been forced to flee their homes." In addition to far lower admissions overall, the type of refugee admitted has changed under Trump, a Reuters analysis of government data shows. The percentage who are Muslim is now a third what it was two years ago, while the percentage who are Europeans has tripled. The shift has led to striking imbalances. Refugees admitted to the United States from the small European country of Moldova, for example, now outnumber those from Syria by three to one, although the number of Syrian refugees worldwide outnumbers the total population of Moldova. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati Editing by Peter Cooney and Dan Grebler)

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The Trump administration is set to propose slashing refugee admissions to zero next year, according to sources familiar with the plans who spoke to Politico on Friday.

The news comes days after the administration implemented an interim final rule that would all but end asylum in the United States for Central Americans and dozens of other countries.

A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official &ldquoclosely aligned&rdquo with White House adviser Stephen Miller suggested at a meeting on refugee admissions last week that the cap should be set at zero, Politico reported. Other officials at the Department of Homeland Security suggested a cap of &ldquoanywhere from 3,000 to 10,000.&rdquo

Since President Donald Trump entered office, U.S. refugee levels have been dropping at an alarming rate. This year alone, Politico noted, the administration cut refugee admissions by a third to just 30,000, the lowest refugee admissions goal in the history of the program.

Previously, the United States accepted around 95,000 refugees per year since 1980.

&ldquoThe United States used to be a leader in providing refuge to those in need, all around the world. We can&rsquot say that anymore,&rdquo Ryan Mace, grassroots advocacy and refugee specialist for Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.

Amnesty International is calling for the United States to return to previous levels and admit at least 95,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2020. &ldquoIt is beyond shameful and a new low, even for this administration, to even consider accepting no refugees to the U.S.,&rdquo Mace said.

&ldquoPeople are in need all over the world &ndash families, children, human beings with unique stories and lives on hold,&rdquo he added. &ldquoZero will never be an acceptable number for any country let alone a country with so many resources and people willing to welcome new neighbors looking to rebuild their lives in peace and safety.&rdquo

Ending refugee admissions, which is what slashing the cap to zero would effectively do, would severely limit the ability of the United States to process refugees moving forward. The reduction of resources that would occur should the administration decide it doesn&rsquot want to admit a single refugee next fiscal year would undoubtedly impact the nation&rsquos ability to admit future refugees long after Donald Trump leaves office.

&ldquoIn the long-term, it would mean that the capacity and the ability of the United States to resettle refugees would be completely decimated,&rdquo Jen Smyers, a director with Church World Service, told Politico.

Church World Service is one of nine refugee resettlement agencies in the United States.

The decision to slash admissions to zero would also have disastrous implications for thousands still stuck in the middle of the lengthy application process. According to refugee advocacy groups, 100,000 Iraqi nationals remain in the queue for admission to the United States. Another 29,000 have already completed an interview with USCIS.

Trump administration files rule that would all but end asylum for Central Americans

Many of the Iraqi nationals waiting for refugee status worked as translators for the U.S. military. Former defense secretary Jim Mattis expressed concern in a letter sent last September to national security adviser John Bolton that those nationals would now be forced to remain in dangerous situations in their home country.

&ldquoNumerous Iraqi nationals have risked their own lives and their families&rsquo lives by aligning with our diplomats and warfighters providing essential mission support. We owe them support for their commitment,&rdquo he wrote.

Mattis suggested keeping the admissions ceiling at around 45,000. &ldquoA failure to honor our commitments to those who have supported the U.S. in combat would undermine our diplomatic and military efforts abroad to protect the Homeland and support key aspects of the President&rsquos national security strategy by making it more difficult to sustain the support of partners elsewhere,&rdquo he added.

In spite of this, the United States has only admitted 140 Iraqi nationals this year.

The agency officials who proposed the dramatic cut in refugee admissions argue it is necessary for &ldquosecurity&rdquo concerns, but multiple studies have shown that admitting refugees has never posed a national security risk to the United States. That officials aligned with Miller &mdash who once allegedly said that he would &ldquobe happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil&rdquo &mdash are the ones pushing this isn&rsquot surprising and shows the extent to which members of his administration hold xenophobic views that play well with the Trump base.

If the president ultimately decides to cap refugee admissions at zero next year, it would also give him leverage to claim he is making good on his campaign promise to take action on immigration.

All of this comes as Trump and his supporters launch repeated racist attacks on four congresswomen of color &mdash including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who is herself a Somali refugee and a naturalized U.S. citizen &mdash for their critiques of his draconian immigration policies.

Trump has argued on more than one occasion that Omar &ldquohates&rdquo the United States and in fact supports Al Qaeda, a baseless claim.