News & Resources

Lowest Refugee Admissions Goal in History Shames America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

November 4, 2019


Henrike Dessaules


(New York, NY) – On Friday, President Trump released the final version of his Presidential Determination (PD) on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2020, which projects the number of refugees that the United States plans to admit during that year. He set the number at 18,000, which is by far the lowest refugee admissions goal ever set in the history of the U.S. resettlement program. Reducing admissions to such unprecedented levels, combined with the many administrative and policy changes the Trump Administration has made to refugee and asylum processing, ensures that the United States will lose its standing as a humanitarian leader on the global stage and is bound to worsen conditions for refugees and other displaced people worldwide.

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) works with thousands of refugees that have been stuck in resettlement processing for years, many of whom are living in life-threatening conditions. Like Sam, who used to interpret for the U.S. military in Iraq, before he fled to Egypt to protect his life and that of his family from militants that were threatening him. He has already been waiting for over four years to be resettled to safety, while living in fear of being deported back to the country where he has a target on his back.

The new PD introduces a new quota for U.S. affiliated Iraqis like Sam, as well as for religious minorities and refugees from Central America, which combined are supposed to make up nearly 60% of refugee admissions in the coming fiscal year. However, given the increased vetting restrictions and other administrative changes introduced by the Trump Administration in recent years, it is unlikely these quotas will be reached, practically all but eliminating refugee admissions. For example, by the end of this fiscal year, only 465 Iraqis had been admitted, even though the PD allowed for far more.

IRAP’s Director of Strategy, Betsy Fisher, said: This news is devastating for refugees who have been waiting for so many years to find safety for themselves and their families. Let’s not forget that resettlement is the only option for displaced people who are out of options: not only for trusted U.S. allies who are being hunted by militia, but also for families whose traumatic experience in their war-torn homes continue to haunt them and LGBT individuals who continue to be exploited and harassed. If we abandon them, we abandon our humanity.”

IRAP urges members of Congress to demonstrate their support for U.S. refugee admissions by sponsoring the GRACE Act, which would set annual refugee admissions at the historical average of 95,000. We also call on Congress to use its oversight powers to ensure the Administration meets at least this historically-low target and decreases processing times.

To view the press release, click here.