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The Trump administration wants to slash the maximum number of refugees admitted into the U.S. next year to an all-time low of 18,000 — a 40% reduction from this year’s number of 30,000, which was itself a historic low. The administration now has to consult Congress over its proposed cap.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, which first reported the story, a State Department spokesperson suggested the lowered refugee cap was the result of an increase in asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition to taking in a maximum of 18,000 refugees, the spokesperson said, “we also anticipate processing more than 350,000 individuals in new asylum cases.”
But most of those asylum cases will lead to deportations — immigration judges denied 65% of asylum petitions in fiscal 2018, the highest denial rate since 2001. Unlike refugees, asylum-seekers have to apply for protections after they reach the U.S. and have their claims reviewed by an immigration judge. Refugees apply from outside the U.S.
The increasing rate of asylum denials, combined with the cut in refugee admissions, could mean people fleeing violence and persecution in their countries will have few legal options for relief in the United States.
The drop in refugee admissions could also have long-lasting effects. The refugee resettlement agency World Relief closed its Jacksonville, Florida, office earlier this year as a result of last year’s refugee cuts.
“It's the money,” Elaine Carson, the founding director of World Relief’s Jacksonville program, previously told VICE News. “Our funding was per refugee. So for every refugee, we got, the more money we had to be able to have staff and be here. But we don't have the money anymore.”
Cover image: President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Trump had spent the week attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)