HIAS balks at Trump cap number on refugees


Refugees, advocates and faith leaders rallying in front of the White House to call for refugee protections on World Refugee Day, June 20, 2017. (HIAS)

(JTA) — President Donald Trump is “betraying” U.S. commitments to refugees for nearly halving the number the country will allow in this year from 2016, the major Jewish immigrant advocacy group HIAS said.

Trump administration officials said Wednesday that the United States will cap the number of refugees at 45,000 for fiscal year 2018 — the lowest figure since 1980. The fiscal year begins at the end of the month.

The cap for fiscal year 2017 was 54,000, and nearly 85,000 refugees from around the world legally entered the United States in 2016.

In 1980, the year the Refugee Act became law, the United States accepted 200,000 refugees.

Since 1980, the average annual ceiling has been set at 96,229 refugees. Last year the cap was set at 110,000, before the Trump administration attempted to lower it to 50,000 through two executive orders. The orders have been largely blocked by federal courts after being challenged.

HIAS called on Congress to “act urgently to pass legislation that demonstrates the strong support for refugee resettlement in the United States and rejects this shameful approach.”

“President Trump has betrayed America’s history and global leadership in providing safe haven for innocent human beings fleeing violence and persecution,” Mark Hetfield, the president and CEO of HIAS, said in a statement. “By setting the refugee number this low, this administration is betraying the commitments we made after World War II – followed by decades of bipartisan support – to ensure that the world never again turns its back on innocent people seeking safety.

“During a period of unprecedented crisis, America has signaled it is a nation in retreat, and as a result the outlook for refugees looks even more bleak.”

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