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Editorial boards and experts: slashing of refugee admissions “gives the world one more reason to lose faith in America”

 

Leading editorial boards and expert observers are condemning the Trump administration’s announcement that it would slash the annual refugee resettlement ceiling to just 30,000. Below are excerpts from pieces penned by the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily News and the International Crisis Group.

The Washington Post editorial board: “The Trump administration gives the world one more reason to lose faith in America”

Another milestone in America’s retreat from global leadership passed Monday when the Trump administration announced that it will cap refugee admissions next year at 30,000, by far the lowest ceiling since the current program was established in 1980. The total is just over a third of the number admitted in 2016, the last year of the Obama administration.

… In announcing this abdication, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it should not be misread as “the sole barometer of America’s commitment to vulnerable people around the world.”

That’s a fair point. A “barometer” would include a raft of other programs and initiatives the administration has used to intimidate, deter, remove, oppress and, in some cases, terrify other groups of vulnerable migrants, including many who aspire to enter this country or who are already here: Thousands of Central American parents and children forcibly separated as a means of dissuading their compatriots who might follow. More than 400,000 Hondurans, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Haitians and others who lived and worked lawfully in the United States for many years before the administration announced it would terminate their legal status, insisting it was safe for them to go home. Some 700,000 “dreamers” — mostly teens and 20-somethings reared and educated in this country — whose lawful status the administration has struggled mightily to revoke.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board: “Slamming the door on the world’s most vulnerable people is contrary to everything America stands for”:

… For years, the United States has been the global leader in the number of resettled refugees. Since 1980, the U.S. has set an average annual cap of 94,650 refugees, with a high of 231,000 in 1980 in response to Vietnamese and Cambodian migration. For several years under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the cap fell to 70,000, but it climbed back up by the end of the Obama administration to 110,000. Enter Donald J. Trump, who lowered the number to 45,000 this year, and now is slashing the cap again — to the lowest level since the Refugee Act of 1980 was enacted.

… The move to reduce the number of refugee resettlements must be viewed within the broader context of this administration’s stingy approach to immigration, from its efforts to ban people from certain mostly Muslim nations to the demands for a wall on the Mexican border — what better symbol of a country shut off from the world than a wall? — to a drop in approved tourism visas and the erosion in the number of people granted citizenship even as applications have increased.

The New York Daily News editorial board: “The flickering beacon: The Trump administration’s un-American slashing of refugee admissions”

Perhaps we should be grateful that, having thrown away age-old ideals that this country is the protector of the persecuted, defender of the oppressed, champion of the despised, the nativists in the Trump administration set the ceiling for refugee admissions at 30,000, and not zero, for fiscal year 2019.

The cap for FY 2018, of 45,000, was already the lowest since the program began in 1980; the actual total admitted was less than 34,000. The prior year, responding to roiling wars and turmoil worldwide, President Obama set the max at 110,000, and almost 97,000 gained entry.

To President Trump and advisers like Stephen Miller, strangers are threats; admitting them is weakness.

Don’t tell them about the legacy of Albert Einstein, Sergey Brin, Madeleine Albright and Hannah Arendt. Just pull up the ramp — even in the midst of crises that are forcing record numbers of people to flee their homes and countries, including Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.

In an op-ed for Politico Magazine, Robert Malley, CEO of the International Crisis Group, and Stephen Pomper, U.S. program director for the International Crisis Group:

It has been strange and unsettling to watch how much effort the Trump team has put into damaging the U.S. government’s own refugee resettlement program, but give them points for effectiveness.

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the refugee ceiling for the coming fiscal year will be 30,000. It is the lowest number in the history of the nearly 40-year-old resettlement program. In so doing, he answered the depressing question experts have been asking for the past several weeks: Would the administration stay put at the record-low level it set for itself in 2018 — 45,000 refugees — or seek to plumb new depths in the coming year?

… Maybe the administration’s posture toward refugees is about something that no economic study or security regime or personnel infusion can fix. Maybe it’s about who the refugees are. After all, this is a president who called a major swathe of the global south “shithole countries,” who pined for higher levels of Norwegian migration, and whose administration draws policy inspiration from polemicists like Ann Coulter — who has described human diversity as a “train wreck.”

If that’s true, if that’s what is driving the administration’s war against a program that has provided transformative assistance to more than three million people over nearly four decades, and projected America’s best face to the world, then it’s time to come clean. The flimsy justifications the administration has offered don’t compute. They should invite the American people to judge them on the strength of their bitter convictions.