U.S. slashes number of refugees it is ready to resettle

Citing safety and security concerns, the Trump administration said Wednesday that it will cap refugee admissions at 45,000 in the 2018 fiscal year, a historic low that refugee advocates say will exclude numerous world's vulnerable populations.

While the cap is low - it represents far less than 1 percent of the 22.5 million people counted as refugees - it does not necessarily reflect the actual number of refugees who are admitted to the U.S.in a year.

Nobody who enters the United States is subjected to a more rigorous screening than a refugee applicant, and refugee processing involves the active engagement of US law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies.

"Today's decision turns our back on the world at a time when there are more refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced persons than at any time since World War II", said Lofgren, a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

In his two travel ban executive orders, Trump directed the United States to accept a maximum of 50,000 refugees for permanent resettlement in the fiscal 2017 year ending September 30, less than half the 110,000 President Barack Obama authorized.

The State Department and Department of Homeland Security planned to brief Congress on the plan on Wednesday, though lawmakers were provided with a report outlining the specifics in advance of that briefing.

"While maintaining the United States leadership role in humanitarian protection, an integral part of this mission is to ensure that refugee resettlement opportunities go only to those who are eligible for such protection and who do not present a risk to the safety and security of our country", a State Department report seen by British newspaper The Guardian reads.

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The Trump administration has told Congress it will limit refugee admissions to about 45,000 in the fiscal year that starts Sunday. That figure would be the lowest ceiling for refugee admissions since the U.S. Refugee Act was signed in 1980.

The Obama administration set a 110,000 refugee target. "We have every plan to process as many refugees as we can under this ceiling", the official said.

"We have recognized for many years that offering safe haven to the neediest among us helps advance American interests overseas, and it is devastating to see the White House ignoring this fact", said Karen Ferguson, executive director of the International Rescue Committee of Northern California in a statement. He is expected to set a cap of 45,000 for FY 2018.

Turkey hosts as many as three million refugees, and Lebanon hosts more than a million, many of them Syrian nationals. "The threat of a drastically low ceiling on refugee arrivals in the USA is contrary to American values and the spirit of generosity in American churches and communities". "It's really moving away from the commitments the government has had for protections of refugees from both Republican and Democratic administrations", he said. This will be the lowest acceptance level in more than a decade.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which recommends potential refugees to UN members, went from recommending America 35,000 refugees a year ago to recommending only 3,591 between January and July.

It is unclear if the administration will impose any restrictions on top of the cap after October 24.

Claims that refugees are a security threat have been thoroughly debunked, many advocates reiterated.


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