President Donald Trump will limit the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States to 30,000 in 2019, the lowest number of resettlements that a president has allowed since the country began its refugee program in 1980.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the new cap on Monday, telling reporters that, in the coming year, the U.S. will accept 15,000 fewer refugees than it is set to accept in 2018, already at a record low of 45,000.
Pompeo claimed that the change did not reflect a decrease in "America's commitment to vulnerable people around the world." Rather, the secretary said that the historically low cap was a response to the "operational costs" resulting from the increase in the number of people applying for asylum in the U.S. For comparison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to cap Germany's annual refugee ceiling at 200,000 in 2017, but only after facing immense pressure from conservative members of her government's coalition.
Here are several advocacy organizations' reactions to the Trump administration's announcement.
In [lowering the cap], the United States is not only abdicating humanitarian leadership and responsibility-sharing in response to the worst global displacement and refugee crisis since World War II, but compromising critical strategic interests and reneging on commitments to allies and vulnerable populations, including religious minorities and those whose lives are in danger because they assisted U.S. troops and U.S. missions overseas.
Jennifer Quigley, Advocacy Strategist, Human Rights First
Today's announcement of the abysmally low refugee cap set by the Trump administration is a shameful abdication of our humanity in the face of the worst refugee crisis in history. Our nation was founded on the backs of refugees, and our country has been enriched by these brave individuals who come here to rebuild their lives in safety. By setting the lowest refugee cap in history, we have turned our backs not only on those in dire circumstances abroad, but on our own American ideals.
Eric Schwartz, President, Refugees International
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's announcement of a refugee ceiling of 30,000 is appalling, and it continues this administration's rapid flight from the proud U.S. tradition of providing resettlement to those fleeing persecution around the world. It is unacceptable that the United States is asking governments like Turkey, Jordan, and Uganda, among many others, to provide safety for literally millions of refugees, while the administration, in turn, announces the lowest refugee ceiling in U.S. history.
Bill Frelick, Director of Refugee Rights Program, Human Rights Watch
The fact that the U.S. will cap the annual number of refugees admitted here at 30,000—by far the lowest ceiling in four decades—demonstrates an utter lack of compassion for the victims of armed violence and persecution. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's announcement is also a cold shoulder to countries on the front lines of conflict, many of whom are close U.S. allies and bear the burden of caring for and protecting the overwhelming majority of the world's refugees.