Trump Administration Sets Refugee ‘Ceiling’ at its Lowest Level in Nearly 40 Years

According to reporting from The New York Times, President Trump plans to set the limit on refugee admissions into the United States at just 45,000 for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The legislation that gives the president a role in determining the annual ‘refugee ceiling’ was passed into law in 1980, and 45,000 refugees represents the lowest number that any administration has ever proposed for the limit.

The History of Refugee Resettlement

The Refugee Act of 1980 was passed in order to create a systematic legal procedure to handle the admission of refugees into the United States. Signed into law by President Jimmy Carter, this legislation puts considerable legal authority into the hands of the executive branch. In theory, this executive discretion is valuable, as it allows the U.S. to be flexible in meeting any new developments and needs around the globe.

For example, in the early 1980s the refugee cap was set at approximately 150,000 per year, in response to major displacement in Southeast Asia. As another example, following the dissolution the Soviet Union in 1990, President George H.W. Bush raised the refugee ceiling to provide status for displaced people coming from Eastern Bloc countries. In 1999, President Bill Clinton raised the ceiling to accept refugees from the war-torn region of Kosovo. Finally, and most recently, the Obama Administration increased the refugee limit to account for displaced people in Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet, despite the need around the world being as high as it has ever been, the Trump Administration is dramatically reducing the refugee limit, from 110,000 down to just 45,000.

The United States Takes in Far Fewer Refugees than Similarly Positioned Countries

Despite the fact that the United States has the capacity to accept and resettle many displaced people, our country has taken in relatively few refugees. For perspective, Canada is set to accept 46,700 refugees in the coming year. While the U.S. is now at its lowest number since 1980, Canada will be at its highest. It is notable that the United States and Canada are poised to accept a similar number of total refugees, since Canada’s population is only ten percent of that of the United States. For the U.S. to take in a comparable number of refugees, we would have to raise the ceiling to more than 450,000 annually. The United States can do more to assist displaced people around the world, and arbitrarily cutting the refugee cap is the wrong decision to make at this time.

Contact Our Los Angeles Immigration Attorneys Today

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, we are strong advocates for immigrants and their families. If you or a loved one needs immigration help, please reach out to our team today to set up your confidential case evaluation. Our law firm is located in Los Angeles, and we represent clients throughout the region, including in Rosemead, Temple City, Baldwin Park and West Covina.