Yikes: President Trump Has Capped 2018 Refugee Admissions at a Record Low

October 2, 2017

Presidential Determination, Ben & Jerry's

This week in what-the-fudge news, President Trump has capped next year’s refugee admissions at a historic low: 45,000. That means that while the refugee crisis rages on and 65.6 million people have been displaced worldwide, the US will only be able to resettle 45,000 refugees in 2018.

To compare, 2017’s cap is set at 110,000. Previously, the lowest refugee cap had been 67,000, in 1986 under President Reagan. The International Rescue Committee called the record low determination “arbitrary” and an act of “stunning cruelty”.


What Is The Presidential Determination?

But wait, let’s go back. This decision on how many refugees will be allowed into the US of A is called the Presidential Determination on refugees, and every president since 1980 has had to make them (thank you, Refugee Act of 1980). Each year, the president looks at the global refugee population, then at the US’s resources for resettling refugees, and decides how many displaced people the country will accept in the coming fiscal year (October through the following September). On average, the Presidential Determination has been just over 96,000 each year. Only once has it dipped below 70,000, which makes this year’s determination bone-chillingly low, given the historic number of refugees in need.

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More Than Numbers

But the Presidential Determination is about more than numbers. Because humans are more than numbers. The US has a long history of resettling those fleeing war and persecution abroad, and often sets the trend for how other countries will respond to crises. With a cap this low — and need this high — the US is sending the message that we’re not interested in doing any more than the bare minimum to help families fleeing war, violence, and persecution in their home countries. And we think the bare minimum isn’t nearly good enough.


We Can Do More

But there is a glimmer of hope. We can still ask our lawmakers to push back on the decision, hopefully prodding the White House to change their tune.

You can take action via the form below. And you should, because this is about more than numbers, it’s about lives.