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White House To Cap The Number Of Refugees Allowed Into The U.S.

Sep 18, 2018
Originally published on September 18, 2018 7:42 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Trump's administration will, again, slash the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States. Starting in the next fiscal year, their numbers will be capped at 30,000, which is the lowest ceiling in decades. And it comes at a time when the world is facing massive refugee flows. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: In defending the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the refugee numbers should not be viewed in isolation.

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MIKE POMPEO: 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.

KELEMEN: He says the U.S. has a, quote, "massive backlog" of asylum-seekers already in the U.S., and the administration will focus on that while continuing to aid refugees overseas.

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POMPEO: We are, and continue to be, the most generous nation in the world.

KELEMEN: Refugee advocates were appalled by the new ceiling. Former Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz now runs Refugees International.

ERIC SCHWARTZ: It's unacceptable - and it's actually appalling - that our government is asking governments like Turkey, like Jordan, like Uganda, among many others around the world, to provide safety for literally millions of refugees while the administration, in turn, announces the lowest refugee ceiling in U.S. history.

KELEMEN: There have been a few years in recent decades that the actual refugee admissions were lower than 30,000. This year's ceiling is 45,000, but the Trump administration has resettled less than half of that as the fiscal year nears its end. Schwartz believes there's too much fearmongering about refugees. He's seen them revitalize communities and add to the U.S. economy.

SCHWARTZ: The evidence-based studies demonstrate that fact. The tragedy is that we have evidence-free policymaking on this issue. But this is a program that serves American interests.

KELEMEN: A program, he says, the Trump administration is trying to dismantle. Refugee advocates are urging Congress to push back. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF BOBO STENSON TRIO'S "CANCION Y DANZA VI") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.