Continuing a trend of drastic cuts to the number of refugees allowed into the United States, the Trump administration is poised to slash the cap of admissions to an all-time low of 15,000, down from 100,000, according to Politico.
Every year, the president sets the limit on the total number of refugees admitted to the United States. Ronald Reagan set the cap above 100,000 annually during the first years of his presidency and all of his successors have followed suit, until Donald Trump. In his first days in office, Trump reduced the cap to only 50,000, a 50 percent reduction, and cut off refugee resettlement of Syrians.
This year, the cap was further cut to 45,000. Over the next couple of months, the Trump administration will set the refugee cap for 2019, which will go into effect in October 2018.
Actual refugee admissions are lower than the cap, of course. For example, during the Obama administration, while the cap was around 100,000, approximately 70,000 refugees were actually admitted during most years. Midway through 2018, the Trump administration was on target to only admit 21,000 refugees for the entire year. That is a 74 percent drop from the same period in the previous fiscal year.
The decrease is being felt the most in the states that receive refugees. Even though 2017 was a modern low point for refugee admissions, 2018 has been much worse. Arizona, for example, had 4,632 refugees resettled there in 2017, but just 878 in the first half of 2018. California went from 9,100 to 1,949. New York saw a drop from 5,618 in 2017 to just 1,527.
Leading the refugee cap cut is Trump advisor Stephen Miller, one of the authors of the Muslim ban and the family separation policy. Miller, a former aid to Jeff Sessions, has long set his sights on drastically cutting non-white legal immigration. A Republican close to the White House told Politico that Miller “is an adamant believer in stopping any immigration, and the president thinks it plays well with his base.”
Miller is also reportedly pursuing a number of other measures to cut legal immigration, including further curtailing eligibility for political asylum and limiting which long-term residents facing deportation can receive protection under the Cancellation of Removal provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Cancellation of Removal is one of the few possible solutions left for the million immigrants facing the loss of DACA and TPS. It is an extremely difficult relief from deportation to qualify for, but it is estimated that one in seven of those losing their temporary statuses may qualify. Miller wants to cut that avenue of relief off for those who will begin losing their DACA as early as this year and TPS next year.
The appointment of Andrew Veprek, a Miller protégé, as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration four months ago signaled the ascent of Miller as the premier leader in the development of Trump’s immigration policy. Veprek has long advocated dramatically cutting immigration, and he has attacked efforts by the United Nations to reduce racism worldwide. Miller himself has close ties to anti-immigrant hate groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and he often echoes white nationalist talking points.