Trump administration cuts refugee cap to new record low

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The Trump administration plans to only admit a maximum of 15,000 refugees this fiscal year, the State Department said in a release late Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: This is yet another record low refugee cap. Before leaving office, President Obama set the refugee limit at 110,000 for fiscal year 2017 — a number Trump has continued to slash throughout his presidency.

  • The proposed cut "accounts for the massive backlog in asylum cases – now more than 1.1 million individuals – by prioritizing those who are already in the country seeking humanitarian protection," according to the release. 
  • "It also accounts for the arrival of refugees whose resettlement in the United States was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
  • Meanwhile, 79.5 million people around the world were living forcibly displaced from their homes in 2019 — roughly 1% of the world's population, according to the United Nations.

Between the lines: The State Department says it expects 300,000 new refugees and asylum claims in FY 2021. Refugee resettlement and asylum are two separate programs for humanitarian immigrants hoping to immigrate to the U.S.

  • The Trump administration has also made it more difficult to attain asylum. Denial rates for asylum seekers in immigration courts have risen from 55% in FY 2016 to 72% in FY 2020, according to Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

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