Trump set to overlook required deadline for 2021 refugee quota | US & Canada
Without a new admission quota, the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program cannot accept new refugees.
US President Donald Trump appears to be ignoring a deadline to determine how many refugees will be allowed to enter the US in the next year, adding to uncertainty about the future of the 40-year-old resettlement program, which has shrunk under his administration.
Under the Refugee Act of 1980, presidents must make their decision before October 1, the start of the fiscal year. With just a few hours to Wednesday, the Trump administration had not scheduled any consultations with Congress that would be required prior to setting the year.
There was no immediate comment from the White House, which usually publishes the target numbers, or the departments of state or homeland security involved in the decision.
Democratic lawmakers have beaten the government for failing to meet their obligations.
Trump’s breach of the 1980 law “will disrupt our refugee admission program and put thousands in mortal danger overseas,” said New York Representative Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and California representative Zoe Lofgren chairs the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship said in a statement.
Trump froze this year’s approvals in March, citing the need to protect American jobs as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic crashed the economy. Proponents fear that the government is deliberately delaying its fiscal year 2021 plans in order to finally get rid of the refugee program.
Sunil Varghese, Policy Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, called on Trump to release the numbers during a press conference on Tuesday. The US refugee admission program “has virtually come to a standstill, and now we are waiting … for the President to meet his legal requirement to consult Congress”.
Refugees cannot be admitted after Thursday until the president sets the cap for the new year.
“We fear that the government could delay the announcement indefinitely,” said Jacinta Ma of the National Immigration Forum, an advocacy group.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the government is committed to the country’s history to lead the world in keeping refugees safe.
“We continue to do our greatest part in alleviating the humanitarian crisis around the world, and we will continue to do so,” Pompeo told reporters in Rome on the sidelines of a conference on religious freedom organized by the US embassy. “As long as President Trump is in office, I can promise you that this administration is deeply committed to it.”
Central American asylum seekers are seen in an enclosure where they are held by US Customs and Border Protection after crossing the border between Mexico and the United States [Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]But proponents said the government’s actions do not show this. Since taking office, Trump has cut the number of refugees admitted into the country by more than 80 percent, reflecting his broader efforts to drastically reduce legal and illegal immigration.
The US took in just over 10,800 refugees – just over half of the 18,000 ceiling set by Trump for 2020 – before the State Department suspended the program because of the coronavirus.
The upper limit of 18,000 was already the lowest in the history of the program. In addition, the State Department announced last week that it would no longer provide statistical information on refugee resettlement, which would raise further concerns.
Many resettlement offices have closed due to a decline in federal funding tied to the number of refugees housed in the U.S.