A US state department report shows that the Trump administration has briefed Congress that it will admit only 45,000 refugees in 2018, the lowest number requested by any president in over three decades and less than half the 110,000 cap issued in the last year of the Obama administration.
The report mentions Trump’s travel ban, issued in May, which called for stricter vetting of refugees. Trump’s announcement came days after he issued a series of indefinite travel restrictions for eight countries.
This move was confronted with criticism from advocacy groups, and bipartisan opposition in Congress. Republican senator Chuck Grassley and Democrat Dianne Feinstein said in a rare joint statement they were “incredibly frustrated” at Trump’s decision.
Federal law requires a cabinet official consult with Congress before a cap is decided. However, a meeting between lawmakers and the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, was only scheduled on Wednesday, just days before the start of the 2018 fiscal year in October when the cap will become effective.
The administration’s move comes at a time when the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reports 65.6 million of forcibly displaced people around the world, a total that has almost doubled in two decades.
Trump’s senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, an immigration hardliner, had argued for the cap to be lowered even further, to 15,000. Although the 45,000 ceiling marks a historic low in the US, after the 9/11 attacks the Bush administration allowed only 27,131 refugees into the country even though the cap was set at 70,000.
Our Verdict: It is hard to comprehend why the Trump administration would limit resettlement, when the need is greater than ever. Due to prevalent criticism and opposition against Trump's move, the future of this plan remains uncertain.