The Trump administration’s sweeping effort to reduce immigration to the U.S. by any means necessary continued Monday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing the number of refugees allowed to resettle in U.S will now be capped at 30,000, the lowest yearly total since the refugee program’s creation in 1980. The latest tightening of America’s borders comes after the Trump administration slashed the number of refugees allowed to stay in the country to 45,000 last year, down from nearly 85,000 refugees in the final year of the Obama administration.
The government is required by law to announce refugee numbers for the upcoming fiscal year, but the continual reduction is further evidence of the Trump administration’s hostility to accepting immigrants and its belief, despite the opposition of human rights organizations, that the American public at large remains supportive of curbing immigration despite sporadic blowback for the tactics deployed by the Trump administration, particularly its policy of separating undocumented children from their parents at the border. “According to a Pew Research Center analysis, last year was the first time the United States resettled fewer refugees than the rest of the world combined,” the Washington Post notes. “But on a per capita basis, the United States is far less generous than countries like Canada, Australia and Norway, all of which resettled more than 500 refugees per 1 million residents. The United States last year resettled 102 refugees per 1 million residents.”
“Some will characterize the refugee ceiling as the full barometer of America’s commitment to vulnerable people around the world,” Pompeo said while announcing the reduction at the State Department Monday. “This would be wrong.” Pompeo, defending the reduction, said the cap was not the “sole barometer” of American humanitarian efforts and must “must be considered in the context of the many other forms of protection and assistance offered by the United States.” Pompeo did not take questions following his statement.
The announcement is “the culmination of a quiet but successful effort by Stephen Miller, the president’s senior policy adviser, to severely restrict the number of refugees offered protection inside the country,” the New York Times reports. “Mr. Miller had pressed for capping the program at as low as 25,000, according to people familiar with the discussions, while others inside the administration had supported maintaining the 45,000 ceiling.”