White House Announces New Limits on Refugees

Refugees travel in a boat. Image via PixaBay

WASHINGTON (CN) – The White House on Thursday announced number of refugees it will allow into the country in 2019, a number that is the lowest on record.

The Trump administration had already lowered the number of refugees who can enter the country this year to 45,000, but the maximum number for all of 2019 is an even lower 30,000.

The number of refugees allowed into the United States has plummeted since President Donald Trump took office.

In 2017, according to the Pew Research Center, the United States admitted 33,000 refuges — the country’s lowest total since the years following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

The 2017 numbers were a marked decline from 2016, when the U.S. admitted about 97,000 refugees.

Non-U.S. countries admitted more than twice as many refugees as the U.S. in 2017 – 69,000 – even though refugee resettlement in these nations was down from 92,000 in 2016, Pew researchers found..

Previously, the closest the rest of the world had come to surpassing the U.S. on this measure was 2003, when the U.S. admitted about 28,000 refugees and the rest of the world admitted about 27,000.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, the 2019 limits represent the lowest number of admittees in the history of the US refugee program since it was enacted in 1980.

“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,” reads the determination which was submitted to the Secretary of State as part of the executive’s annual refugee limit announcement.

Earning “refugee” status is an extensive process that differs greatly from one of the other tools used to gain access to the US as a non-citizen.

Refugees apply for this status while existing outside of the borders of the country. They must be of “special humanitarian concern to the United States” as well as demonstrates they “were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group Is not firmly resettled in another country,” according to Us Citizen and Immigration Services, the federal agency that oversees the program.

Refugee numbers for 2019 are broken down by continent with African refugees making up the bulk of available slots at 11,000. Near East and South Asian make up the second largest at 9,000, while East Asia, Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean make up the remaining 11,000.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, which has tracked refugee admissions since 1980, the first year the program was created was also the year with the highest “ceiling” for admissions at about 225,000 refugees allowed.

The ceiling for admissions dropped significantly in the mid-80s to about 65,000 before spiking again in 1993 to under 150,000. That number dropped below 100,000 again in the late 90s and has stayed below that level ever since. Obama’s final years in office say the limit set at 70,000 in 2015 and 85,000 in 2016.

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