The U.S. admitted only 22,491 refugees for resettlement during FY 2018, which ended on September 30th. This is the lowest number resettled by far since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980.
This comes when the number of refugees around the world is at an all-time high, as we have noted previously. Regions that are among the most conflictive in the world were strikingly shunned, in part due to Executive Orders crafted last year. For example, only two refugees from Yemen, and 62 from Syria were resettled. In contrast, the U.S. resettled 2,635 refugees from Ukraine and 437 from Russia.
In Maine, 66 refugees were resettled during FY 2018, only 10% of the number resettled here in FY 2016.
While this trend is a clear abdication of the nation’s values as a defender of human rights, it also has ominous economic repercussions.
The data is clear that the U.S. (and Maine’s) population is aging, and the nation’s birth rates are below replacement level. The U.S., and Maine, needs an influx of people if our population, and our economy is not going to shrink. Refugees have been one steady source of that influx.
For example, in the last two fiscal years of the Obama administration, the U.S. resettled nearly 155,000 refugees. Nearly 26,000 refugees were resettled from October-December 2016. For the remainder of FY 2017, under the Trump Administration, 28,000 refugees arrived. Combined with FY 2018’s total, the Trump administration has resettled just over 50,000 people in the U.S., only a third of the number resettled in FY 2015 and FY 2016.
This national drop in refugee admissions translates directly into a drop in refugees being resettled in Maine. With the Administration setting an even lower cap on refugee admissions for FY 2019 than it did for FY 2018, it’s unlikely that Maine will receive many refugees in the coming year.
Maine employers are clamoring for more workers. The administration’s refugee policy is clearly not going to help alleviate our shrinking workforce woes.