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Top Dems condemn Trump administration refugee admissions cap

congressReps. Don Beyer, Pramila Jayapal, David N. Cicilline, Gerald E. Connolly, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. and Bill Pascrell, Jr. led a letter to President Donald Trump condemning the retreat of American leadership following the announcement of an historically low refugee admissions cap without consulting Congress, which is mandated by U.S. law.

The Members also expressed concern that the current fiscal year resettlement rate is the lowest in program history and strongly refuted the announcement’s claims that the Administration cannot address the asylum backlog while maintaining a strong refugee admissions level. The letter was signed by a total of 102 Democrats.

The lawmakers wrote:

“Your recent decision to drastically curtail our nation’s acceptance of refugees is an abdication of American leadership and values. We urge you to reconsider.

“The Fiscal Year 2019 refugee admissions goal of just 30,000 people is a 33 percent decrease from the previous historic low cap of 45,000 for fiscal year 2018. Setting a new record low refugee admissions goal is an abandonment of U.S. leadership amidst the largest global refugee crisis in history, and ultimately makes America less safe. We urge you to increase the refugee admission level to no lower than 110,000.

“Therefore, when faced with a record high number of global refugees, the Administration’s response of setting an historic low refugee admissions cap ignores an obvious humanitarian crisis that the United State can and should help address. The announcement comes after a failure to consult with Congress, as mandated by U.S. law. The announcement also implies that the Administration cannot address the asylum backlog while also maintaining a strong refugee admissions level. Refugee resettlement and asylum are two critical forms of protection and one need not come at the expense of the other, especially at a time when global needs have never been greater. Moreover, diverting resources away from refugee resettlement to asylum has yet to successfully reduce the backlog.

“It is also deeply concerning that the United States is on track to resettle less than half of the refugee admissions goal set for fiscal year 2018. According to public State Department data, as of eleven months into fiscal year 2018, the U.S. had resettled only 19,899 refugees — a more than 60 percent drop compared to the same period in fiscal year 2017 when 51,392 refugees had been resettled. At this rate, the U.S. is on track to resettle no more than 22,000 refugees in fiscal year 2018. In addition, there has also been a 90 percent reduction in the number of Muslim refugees resettled compared to the previous fiscal year.

“We call on your administration to stop its systematic effort to dismantle the U.S. resettlement program, raise the fiscal year 2019 refugee admissions cap to no lower than 110,000 refugees, engage in the requisite Congressional consultations, and account for the discrepancy between the refugee admissions goal for fiscal year 2018 and the grossly inadequate resettlement rate. We look forward to hearing from you and await your response.”

The full text of and a signed copy of the letter is available here.