LOS ANGELES (CN) – The United States is on track to admit the lowest number of refugees into the country since it started its resettlement program three decades ago, a byproduct of stricter admission policies adopted by the Trump administration.
According to an analysis of State Department data compiled by the Associated Press on migration and refugee populations from 2009-2017 and the year so far, there has been a drastic drop in the number of refugees admitted into the country.
Approximately 20,000 refugees will be admitted into the United States by Sept. 30 of this year, according to the analysis. That’s less than the cap of 45,000 established by the federal government for this year and about a quarter of the cap of 110,000 refugees set in the last years of the Obama administration.
Recent policy changes under the Trump administration, like last year’s travel ban on entry from several mostly Muslim countries and reductions in services for refugee families, are to blame for the decline in admissions.
University of Southern California clinical professor of law Niels Frenzen said in an interview that while the federal government continues to receive petitions from those seeking refugee status in the United States, the process has slowed to a crawl.
“Even though it continues in practice, the numbers show that the slowdown is due to inadequate resources. The application process itself one of the most vetted before someone is allowed into the country,” said Frenzen.
“But now we’re seeing a program that is starved of resources.”
According to the AP’s analysis, about 15 percent of refugees admitted into the United States this fiscal year are Muslim, down from 47 percent a year ago.
In the first two months of 2017, a total of 1,094 Somalis, 1,860 Iraqis and 1,991 Syrian refugees were admitted into the United States, according to Los Angeles-based National Public Radio station KPCC.
In the first two months of 2018, just 49 Somalis, 19 Iraqis and 5 Syrians have been admitted.
Earlier this year, the Fourth Circuit ruled the travel ban discriminates against people of the Muslim faith.
During the last full year of the Obama administration, nearly 85,000 refugee arrivals were recorded, according to the analysis. About 53,000 refugees arrived in the United States in the last fiscal year, and only 9,600 have been admitted in the last six months.