The Trump administration continues to find any wiggle room it can to curb immigration without major legislative reform. While talks over potential legislation are likely to kick up once again in the lead up to the midterms, Trump continues to show he mean business in the meantime. Further restrictions are to be placed on the number of refugees permitted to entry the country. The president plans to cap 2019 refugees allowed at 30,000, down from a cap of 45,000 in 2018.
This reduction is not the first, as the administration has already lowered the bar far below Obama era norms. “President Barack Obama had put in place” a cap of 110,000 refugees before he left office, NY Times reports. Thus, Trump’s cap for the current year was already less than half of that allowed at the end of the Obama presidency, and the new 2019 ceiling will be less than one third.
Refugee admittance has not seen such restrictions since the program was created in 1980. The latest move is not uniformly popular throughout the administration. “Others inside the administration, including in the Department of Defense and, initially, the State Department, had supported maintaining the 45,000 refugee ceiling,” reports the NY Times.
“This was an opportunity for the administration to show its humanitarian heart,” suggests Nazanin Ash, the vice president for policy and advocacy at the International Rescue Committee. “The administration has the resources it needs to effectively administer both programs.”
To the Trump administration, the decision is seemingly not based off of whether or not the country has the resources today. Rather, the decision seems to be reflecting a long term national interest, and whether or not a continued inflow of refugees will provide prosperity for the country onwards into the future. However, this point is surely largely debated by humanitarian voices like Ms. Nazanin Ash.
Nevertheless, while Trump is in office, it appears as if this is to be the new norm. “It is becoming increasingly clear that the goal of this White House is to cripple the U.S. refugee program,” suggests Center for Migration Studies director J. Kevin Appleby. By the rapid decrease in refugees permitted, this point is hardly debatable.
A voice within the administration that evidently is being heard is that of senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. Efforts to severely restrict all avenues of immigration have continuously been made by Mr. Miller. If it is to be believed that he has a sizable influence on immigration policy, it is worthy of note that Miller has “pressed for capping the [refugee] program at as low as 25,000,” according to the NY Times.
While 30,000 refugees to be allowed in 2019 is a historic low, it is not out of the picture that historic lows could be set again in the following year.