How Does Trump's Refugee Cap Compare To Other Nations?

The number of global refugees is bigger than ever, but the U.S. is scaling back its refugee resettlement program faster than any other country.
Posted at 3:49 PM, Sep 21, 2018

The Trump administration announced plans on Monday to limit the number of admitted refugees to 30,000 a year. That would be 15,000 less people than the current ceiling and the lowest cap since the refugee program was created in 1980.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "We propose resettling up to 30,000 refugees under the new refugee ceiling."

And the U.S. is probably not even going to admit that many. The number of admitted refugees for the current fiscal year, which is almost over, is 21,000, according to the latest State Department figures. That's not even half the cap.

And while the slashing of the refugee program is in line with the Trump administration's efforts to curb legal and illegal immigration, it still comes at a time when the the global refugee population is reaching record highs, according to a Pew Research analysis of United Nations data.

So, as the number of people displaced by war and famine is surging, the U.S. is scaling back its refugee resettlement program at a faster pace than any other country.

In fact, for the first time since 1980, the U.S. resettled fewer refugees in 2017 than the rest of the world combined.

It's important to note that these numbers don't take into account the millions of asylum-seekers who've migrated to Europe by sea or crossed the southern U.S. border in recent years. As opposed to refugees who must first obtain permission to resettle, asylum-seekers migrate to their destination first and then apply for the right to stay.

And the Trump administration has also attempted to slash the rapidly growing number of new asylum claims. In July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced asylum applications based on fear of gang and domestic violence would be rejected.

There is no cap on asylum grants in the U.S. And over the past decade, roughly 20,000-25,000 people have received asylum protections every year, according to the most recent government data.

As for the suggested new refugee cap, if confirmed it would go into effect at the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. In defending the plan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that while the U.S. will continue to be "the most generous nation in the world," it's also important to dedicate enough time to thoroughly vet all applicants.