By Joe Guzzardi
April 7, 2017
President Trump’s administration got off to a flying start on curbing refugee admissions into the United States. Making good on his campaign promise to reduce refugee inflow until more secure vetting could be developed, President Trump promptly signed an executive order that would temporarily ban travel from certain Middle Eastern nations that he called “terror-prone,” permanently shut down Syrian entry, and put the refugee resettlement program on hold.
Even though the Immigration and Nationality Act empowers the president to restrict immigration to protect the nation’s security interests or for any other reason he deems necessary, and despite President Obama’s similarly worded 2011 executive order, the federal courts promptly blocked President Trump.
While the Supreme Court will likely determine the executive order’s merits, the State Department has quietly resumed a refugee policy akin to President Obama’s. A State Department representative confirmed that the Trump administration will admit 900 refugees weekly through the end of fiscal year 2017.
A State Department official’s statement regarding Hawaii federal judge Derrick Watson’s decision to block a revised, softened order confirmed, “We have increased the current pace of refugee arrivals to approximately 900 individuals per week.”
But as a 2015 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) assessment report showed, no matter how much the U.S. does to assist, it’s never enough. The U.S. bears the brunt of global resettlement; 62 percent of referred refugees are sent to the U.S. In addition to being the world’s top resettlement destination, the U.S. has contributed $5.6 billion in humanitarian aid to the Syrian crisis since 2011, by far the global leader in that nation’s refugee funding.
The UNHCR, however, realized that to meet its expansive goal of resettling millions, it would need the U.S. to issue student, work and family-based visas to refugees to supplement its nonstop lobbying for ever-higher refugee caps which would assuredly meet voter resistance.
Americans hope that instead of following President Obama’s ill-advised refugee increases, President Trump will re-establish the true resettlement goal – that is, to accept only those who are in immediate danger and for whom there’s no other option. For Middle Eastern and African refugees, a more effective approach is to resettle those refugees closer to their birth nations where they can return home quickly once the conflicts in their countries end. Since the cost to resettle a single refugee in the U.S. is 12 times as expensive as it is to care for that person in a neighboring country, more refugees could be taken out of danger. Eventually, this plan would allow refugees to help themselves instead of becoming welfare-dependent in the U.S.
Resettling close to home seems to be at odds with the path the Trump administration has chosen. Perhaps a favorable Supreme Court decision on President Trump’s original executive orders that suspended resettlement will spur him back in the direction Americans favor – fewer refugees.
Joe Guzzardi is a Senior Writing Fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.