Posted on September 27, 2019 in Press Releases

Last night the Trump administration announced its intention to cap refugee admissions for Fiscal Year 2020 at 18,000 individuals, the lowest refugee admissions goal in the history of the program. The decision to abandon tens of thousands of refugees in their time of greatest need, while Americans stand willing and able to welcome them, is a shameful, embarrassing, and cruel abdication of moral responsibility. 

This Presidential Determination represents the Trump administration's third straight decline in refugee resettlement goals, from 45,000 for FY 2018 and 30,000 for FY 2019 to now 18,000 in FY 2020. Historically, the annual goal averaged around 95,000 resettled refugees. This year, the administration’s offered explanation for such a drastic reduction in refugee admissions attempts to pit different categories of migrants against each other by invoking asylum seekers at our southern border. This shamelessly rhetoric seeks to shift the blame for such an atrocious decision away from the White House and onto victims of violence, persecution, and state failure. 

Compounding the impact, last night president Trump also issued an Executive Order which requires both state and local governments to submit written consent, to be posted publicly, in order to resettle refugees in a given community. The rationale for these superfluous steps is deference. While novel, this is hardly the first time bigotry has been hidden behind the thin veil of respect for state and local preferences.

Executive Director Maya Berry stated,

"This administration’s actions will all but shutter the Refugee Admissions Program, which includes government, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and communities around the country, exemplifying the best of America. The decimation of refugee resettlement in the United States will not only stunt our potential growth, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and diversity as a nation, it will leave abandoned the more than 25 million refugees worldwide, at least 9 million of whom originate from the Arab world

We call on each member of Congress to support the GRACE Act (S.1088/H.R.2146), which would set the refugee resettlement goal at the historical average of 95,000 people annually. Further, we call on Congress to hold the administration accountable, under the Refugee Act of 1980, through a full consultation with respect to the refugee resettlement program. The Arab American Institute has denounced this administration's previous failures to accept refugees and its farcical call for "extreme vetting" of refugees. If we as a nation abandon refugees in this dire moment, we will ultimately abandon who we have long endeavored to become.