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September 17, 2018

Response to the Low PD

Secretary Pompeo recently announced the Trump Administration’s intention to set the refugee admissions goal for Fiscal Year 2019 at an all-time low of 30,000 refugees, citing the large backlog of asylum applications. While the United States does have a growing backlog of asylum applicants that needs to be addressed, the United States has one of the lowest ratios of refugees and asylum seekers per 1,000 citizens in the developed world, with only 3 refugees for every 1,000 Americans. For comparison, Sweden—a country roughly the size of the state of California with 27 million less citizens— hosts 30 refugees for every 1,000 citizens.

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United States Resettlement Priorities

Each country that participates in the refugee resettlement program through the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) determines that populations of refugees they wish to resettle into their country based on criteria such as ability to integrate.

The United States has set three refugee processing priorities:

  • Priority One: Refugees who are the most vulnerable and are unable to return home, as well as those who remain in danger in the country of asylum they fled to.
  • Priority Two: Groups designated by the United States to be of special humanitarian concern, including U.S.-affiliated Iraqis and Afghans who worked on behalf of the U.S. government whose lives were threatened because of their support of the U.S. mission.
  • Priority Three: Family reunification limited to designated nationalities.

What the Trump Administration fails to acknowledge is that by reducing the admissions ceiling to 30,000 they are harming the world’s most vulnerable and breaking promises to our war-time allies. For example, in 2016 over 72% of refugees resettled in the United States were women and children—many of which were single mothers, survivors of sexual assault and torture, and had serious medical conditions. Someone fleeing from a terrorist organization because of their sexual orientation or religion is still very likely to experience the same persecution in the first country of asylum, and suffer severe trauma that cannot be addressed in camps or difficult urban environments.

Additionally, the United States made a promise to their wartime allies who are now in danger because of their involvement with the U.S. government. Leaving the men and women who worked with our troops as interpreters, translators, and aids in unconscionable.

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