Trump sets annual refugee cap lower than ever

The White House announced late last week that for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, beginning Oct. 1, 2017, the United States will only admit a maximum number of 45,000 refugees . This represents the lowest refugee admissions ceiling ever set by the U.S. government, despite record numbers of forced displacement around the world. The UN Refugee Agency estimated 65.6 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2016.

This from Royce Murray, Policy Director at the American Immigration Council.

Those visas will be allocated with 19,000 for Africa; 17,500 for the Near East/South Asia; 5,000 for East Asia; and 2,000 for Europe and Central Asia. Latin America and the Caribbean were only allocated 1,500 visas. Unlike years past, there is no “unallocated reserve” of refugee visas which previous administrations routinely authorized to provide flexibility to the U.S. Refugee Program for unexpected refugee flows.

This new refugee cap is a 59 percent reduction in the refugee ceiling set by the Obama administration, who allocated 110,000 visas for refugees in FY 2017. The annual refugee cap since the late 1990s has wavered between about 65,000 and 90,000. The cap has never been below about 65,000 since before 1980.

Senator Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the ranking member, Senator Feinstein (D-CA) criticized the administration in a joint letter, stating, “We are incredibly frustrated that the annual consultation for refugee admissions, which is required by law, was finalized just one day in advance… It is simply unacceptable to read in the press that the administration had reached its decision on the refugee cap before the mandated meeting with Congress had even been scheduled.”

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