US Slashes Refugees. No, Not Like With A Straight Razor. Okay Well Kind Of.
Photo: British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The Trump administration announced yesterday that, for the third year in a row, it would be cutting the number of refugees admitted to the US, this time to just 18,000 for fiscal 2020. That's down from a target of 110,000 in 2016, Barack Obama's final year in office (when we actually admitted only 97,000). The cap on refugee admissions is the lowest in modern history, despite an ongoing international refugee crisis that has left almost 71 million people displaced around the world. It's just the latest move in Stephen Miller's agenda of eliminating both legal and illegal immigration.

The administration claims the large number of asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border leaves it no choice but to slash refugee admissions, although refugee admissions and handling asylum requests are totally separate processes. Really, this is about restricting all immigration, and especially about pleasing the racist immigrant-haters who love Trump the most. Anything else the administration says is pure bafflegab.

The 18,000 refugees will be divided up thusly, according to a press call with reporters:

The Trump administration will reserve 4,000 refugee slots for Iraqis who worked with the United States military, 1,500 for people from Central America and 5,000 for people persecuted for their religion, senior administration officials said. The additional 7,500 slots are for those who are seeking family unification and have been cleared for resettlement.

That's a change from previous methods of divvying up refugees, which allocated refugee admissions by the region they came from. The 1,500 total for Central Americans is ridiculously low, particularly since hundreds of thousands have fled persecution and gang violence in the region.

In addition to the new lower numbers, Donald Trump signed an executive order that would allow state and local officials to reject refugees in their jurisdictions. That's being framed as an effort to make sure local governments "approve" of refugee resettlement, but of course it's just another gift to xenophobes.

"State and local governments are best positioned to know the resources and capacities they may or may not have available," the order said, "which maximizes the likelihood refugees placed in the area will become self-sufficient and free from long-term dependence on public assistance."

Gotta pound on that claim that refugees are all on welfare, when in reality they tend to use public assistance for a short time, and then soon pay more in taxes than they get in benefits during their first 20 years in the US.

Mark Hetfield the chief executive of HIAS, the Jewish nonprofit that helps refugees from all over, called the executive order an attempt to "allow governors and mayors to imitate [Trump's] own refugee ban, state by state and town by town." It should certainly get plenty of votes from people who were already planning to vote for Trump. Shouldn't be long before we get news of some town council voting to make their town a "sanctuary city for AMERICANS," hurr hurr. HIAS, we should note, was the organization the Pittsburgh temple shooter thought was responsible for "replacing" white Americans with migrants from Central America and the Middle East, so please ignore the nice refugee advocate.

As an additional fuck-you to refugees who had already been approved for admission to the US, the administration froze arrivals of new refugees for several weeks while it prepared to roll out the latest reduction. Refugee admissions will start again on October 22. Reuters notes that while brief suspensions of refugee arrivals have happened before, "the weeks-long halt has left many refugees who had already booked their flights stranded."

The State Department also issued its own statement claiming "The current burdens on the U.S. immigration system must be alleviated before it is again possible to resettle large number of refugees[.]"

Refugee advocates note that, since there's a huge backlog in admitting refugees who have already jumped through all the hoops of UN and US vetting, there will be very little flexibility for the US to allow in any people fleeing new wars and crises. But that's not our problem, because fuck the rest of the world. Not helping people in crisis is exactly what Trump and Miller want, because the people who come to Trump rallies see no difference between refugees, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, and Iraqis who worked as translators for US troops -- they're all dangerous Mexicans and Islams who want to kill us all, and why are we even allowing in 18,000 of the lazy takers?

[Reuters / NYT / Quartz / Image: "Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan, 2013," by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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