The President has announced that the administration will cap refugee resettlement for FY 2021 (October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021) at 15,000 refugees.
This continues the fourth straight year of the administration’s stranglehold on refugee resettlement, with the prior caps set by the President at 45,000, then 30,000, and then 18,000 for the just-ended 2020 fiscal year. But while final FY 2020 figures were not available at this writing, as of September 25th, only 10,892 individuals had actually been resettled here, the lowest number since at least 1975. Only 40 refugees were resettled in Maine in FY2020. In comparison, in FY 2016, the U.S. resettled 84,994 refugees, with about 650 resettled in Maine.
In the past three years, the U.S. has abdicated its moral and legal obligation under both U.S. and international law to provide safe haven to those forced to flee their homes, and has gone from being a world leader in refugee resettlement to resettling fewer than all other resettlement countries combined.
The record low refugee cap cannot be seen in a vacuum. As this Wall Street Journal article (paywall) notes:
Mr. Trump has made restricting refugee admissions a key piece of his broader effort to reduce nearly all forms of immigration. He has said the program might allow terrorists to enter the country, though refugees face more security checks than other immigrants.
He has also said that refugees are a drain on public resources, despite the positive economic impact refugees have on the country, as well as the social contributions they make to their communities nationwide.
Given the record nearly 80 million people (or 1 of every 97 humans) who are permanently displaced and in need of resettlement worldwide, and Maine’s and the nation’s aging demographics and shrinking workforce, the administration’s decision to turn its backs on refugees represents a moral, human rights, and also an economic failure.