The Trump Administration plans to restrict the number of refugees admitted into the U.S. next year to 45,000 people— a historically low cap that no other president before Trump has ever set. In a State Department report delivered to congress on Wednesday, the White House also requested more stringent screening for refugee resettlement, despite an already rigorous vetting process.
According to a page of the State Department’s report, which was published by The Guardian, the White House has proposed slashing the number of refugees accepted from every region of the world by more than half:
As with all of Trump’s xenophobic efforts to limit immigration, the State Department framed its decision as a necessity to protect the country. From the memo:
“While maintaining the United States leadership role in humanitarian protection, an integral part of this mission is to ensure that refugee resettlement opportunities go only to those who are eligible for such protection and who do not present a risk to the safety and security of our country.”
The State Department’s proposal seems to solidify a horribly misguided “wolf in sheep’s clothing” logic that has dominated the Trump administration’s characterization of refugees. In fact, refugees are less likely to commit crimes than those born in the U.S.
Presidents began setting a refugee ceiling in 1980. Before Trump’s proposal, President Ronald Reagan held the record for the lowest refugees cap at 67,000 (what an honor). In the last year of President Obama’s administration, the refugee ceiling was set at 110,000 people, however Trump’s travel ban sharply decreased the number of refugees who were actually admitted into the U.S.
And that’s the catch: a refugee ceiling isn’t a requirement, but the maximum — meaning the Trump administration could foreseeably accept less refugees. It’s quite plausible that Stephen Miller, a prominent purveyor of the White Houses’s anti-immigrant agenda, will get his wish after all: cutting the number of refugees accepted into the U.S. to 15,000.