A long history of declining U.S. refugee admissions
December 21, 2020 - The U.S. admitted an all time low of 11,841 refugees in fiscal year 2020, with only 400 having been admitted so far in fiscal year 2021.
Once a welcoming nation to refugees, the United States has seen its Refugee Admissions Programme (USRAP) decimated by President Donald Trump, since he assumed office in 2017.
During his brief tenure, Trump has systematically targeted the programme by slashing the annual ceiling for how many refugees can be accepted into the country each year.
In fiscal year 2021, the figure is just 15,000, the lowest level in the programme’s history. From 2016 to 2020, the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. dropped 86 percent. In the first two months of fiscal year 2021, the number of accepted refugees is a lowly 400.
According to the Refugee Processing Center, only 11,814 refugees were actually resettled in the U.S. during fiscal year 2020 – well short of the 18,000 ceiling set for that year.
Since the mid-1990s, the refugee admissions ceiling had been hovering around the 70,000-80,000 per year level. As soon as Trump took office, the level was slashed by executive order from Obama's planned increase to 110,000, down to 50,000. Since then it has steadily declined.
Unfortunately, low admission levels translate to reduced funding for the refugee programme as a whole, creating a domino effect on the system – drastically reducing the local infrastructure which supports newly arrived refugees and affecting those overseas who are waiting to be resettled.
Trump's policy could not have come at a worse time. There are currently 79.5 million people who have been forced to flee their homes globally, with more than 26 million of them identified as refugees, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).