US announces sharp cut in refugee intake for 2019

WASHINGTON, Sept 18: The Trump Administration Monday decided to take only 30,000 refugees next year in the country, slashing the intake from 45,000 in 2018.
“The United States anticipates up to 310,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Fiscal 2019. We propose resettling up to 30,000 refugees under the new ceiling,” the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State department.
The US also anticipate processing applications of “more than 280,000 asylum seekers,” he said.
They will join over 800,000 asylum seekers who are already inside the US and are awaiting adjudication of their claims, he said, asserting that these figures testify to America’s “longstanding record of the most generous nation in the world when it comes to protection-based immigration and assistance.”
Wary that the decision to cap refugees intake may face criticism, Pompeo said the ceiling on the refugees number should not be viewed in isolation from other expansive humanitarian programs.
“Some will characterise the refugee ceiling as the sole barometer of America’s commitment to vulnerable people around the world. This would be wrong,” he said.
“Other countries, when noting their humanitarian protection efforts, highlight their assistance to both refugees and asylees. The United States should do the same,” he said.
This year’s refugee ceiling reflects the substantial increase in the number of individuals seeking asylum in US, leading to a massive backlog of outstanding asylum cases and greater public expense.
“The daunting operational reality of addressing over 800,000 individuals in pending asylum cases demands renewed focus and prioritisation. The magnitude of this challenge is unequaled in any other country,” he explained.
Pompeo said this year’s refugee ceiling also reflects US’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable around the world while prioritizing the safety and well-being of the American people, as President Donald Trump has directed. “We must continue to responsibly vet applicants to prevent the entry of those who might do harm to our country,” he said.
Democrats and human rights bodies were quick in opposing the decision. “Outrageous,” said Senator Jeane Shaheen.
“The decision to reduce an already all-time low refugee admissions is the opposite of what we stand for as a nation. It harms vulnerable families who face near-certain dangers and weakens our hand on the world stage,” she said.
“No wonder this decision was taken without the consultation with Congress that is required. Don’t tell me this is for national security – refugees are among the most securely vetted travellers to the US. Congress is supposed to be consulted,” Shaheen said.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, co-chair of the Cong Refugee Caucus, said she was appalled by Trump Administration’s decision to once again slash refugee intake.
“With crises in every region of the world, the US should be doing more, not less, to be a global leader in refugee protection,” she said.
“The Trump administration is proposing to slash refugee admissions before the legally-mandated consultation with Congress. At every turn, we must resist this administration’s efforts to isolate America and abandon the persecuted,” Senator Ed Markey said.
“Slashing the number of refugees we take in during the worst refugee crisis in modern history won’t make us safer, and shutting the door on the thousands of displaced people – many of them women and children fleeing war, famine, and violence – is cruel and simply un-American,” Congresswoman Lois Frankel said.
“Against a record-high global refugee crisis, the Trump administration’s record low refugee admissions cap is dangerous and un-American,” said Congressman Gerry Connolly. He has introduced a bill in the Congress which will require Trump to admit at least 110,000 refugees annually so as to restore America’s leadership role in refugee resettlement, the lawmaker said. (PTI)


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