White House Considers Allowing Fewer Refugees to Enter U.S.

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Bloomberg– President Donald Trump’s administration is considering slashing the maximum number of refugees that can be resettled in the U.S. next year, according to a senior administration official.

Top officials haven’t yet met to craft a formal recommendation and the president hasn’t made a decision, the official said. Trump previously set the refugee cap at 30,000, down significantly from the limit under President Barack Obama.

Those in the administration advocating to reduce the number argue that the country already has been overwhelmed by asylum seekers, many of them families from Central America.

The official added that it’s more cost-effective to resettle refugees — who come to the U.S. from around the world and are fleeing violence and persecution — in other locations closer to their home countries.

The cap in the past has not been considered dependent on the number of people seeking asylum — those who have come to the U.S. rather than applying for protection while in a foreign country. People who successfully apply from another country are considered refugees. But the official said the backlog caused by the jump in asylum applications has taxed the government’s capacity to admit refugees.

The official declined to say whether the White House is considering disallowing any refugees from entering the U.S. Obama set the refugee cap at 85,000 during the final year of his administration.

Consideration of new refugee limits, reported earlier by the New York Times, is part of a long-running crackdown on legal and illegal immigration since Trump took office in 2017 that has escalated as he campaigns for re-election. Stephen Miller, his top immigration adviser, has consistently pushed for lower levels of refugee admissions and stricter rules surrounding regarding the asylum process.

That has made him a target of criticism by immigrant-rights advocates. They have also taken aim at Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, for what they say are his efforts to make it more difficult to apply for asylum.