US slashes refugee admission cap by one-third

By Michael Hernandez


The Trump administration said Monday that it will cut the maximum number of refugees that can be resettled in the U.S. by one-third.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the decision, saying Washington would seek to resettle at most 30,000 refugees in fiscal year 2019, down from 45,000 for the current fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.

Pompeo did not take questions from reporters, who were notified that he would be making an announcement less than an hour before it began.

The new number is the most refugees the U.S. would take in. The actual number could be far less.

Pompeo said the lower cap “must be considered in the context of the many other forms of protection and assistance offered by the United States” and should not be seen as the “sole barometer” of Washington’s commitment to the world’s vulnerable populations.

“This would be wrong,” he said. “This year’s refugee ceiling reflects the substantial increase in the number of individuals seeking asylum in our country leading to a massive backlog of outstanding asylum cases.”

Trump has dramatically reduced the refugee admittance figure from the Obama era, which last saw a maximum of 110,000 admissions.

The president has taken a hardline approach to immigration, both legal and illegal, and has been dealt successive defeats in court over his “zero tolerance” approach to undocumented migration.