Halfway through FY 2018, only 10,548 refugees have been admitted to the United States, according to the State Department website.
If refugee admissions continue at the same pace for the final six months of FY 2018, the total number of refugees resettled in the United States will be just a little more than 21,000 – the lowest level of admissions since the refugee program began in 1980, and less than half of the 45,000 “ceiling” for refugees announced for FY 2018 by President Trump in September.
President Trump is now “on pace to break Bush record of lowest refugee resettlement numbers since 1980 law [the Refugee Act of 1980] enacted,” Ann Corcoran of Refugee Resettlement Watch wrote in a headline on Tuesday.
“We have now reached the six month mark of the first full fiscal year of the Trump presidency and Trump could easily break the Bush record set in 2002 of 27,070 refugee admissions for one year,” Corcoran noted.
The Trump administration’s dramatic reduction in the number of refugees resettled in the United States provides a sharp contrast to the high number of refugees that arrived during President Obama’s time in office, especially the last full fiscal year of his administration, FY 2016, when 84,995 refugees were admitted to the United States.
In FY 2017, which was split between the last three months and 20 days of the Obama administration and the first eight months and 11 days of the Trump administration, the number of refugees admitted dropped to 53,716. Of those, 30,122 arrived on Obama’s watch and 23,594 arrived during the Trump administration.
On the campaign trail in 2016, President Trump promised to reduce the number of refugees arriving from countries that are “hotbeds of terrorism,” and he has honored that promise.
During the first six months of FY 2018, 420 refugees were admitted into the United States from the seven countries whose citizens were temporarily prohibited from entering the United States under President Trump’s first travel ban, Executive Order 13679: Somalia (201), Iraq (106), Sudan (51), Syria (44), Iran (18), Yemen (0), and Libya (0).
During FY 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, the number of arrivals from those seven countries was much higher. A total of 36,696 refugees arrived that year from those seven countries: Somalia (9,020), Iraq (9,880), Sudan (1,458), Syria (12,587), Iran (3,750), Yemen (0), and Libya (1).
In contrast to the reduction in the number of refugees admitted to the United States under the Trump administration, failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton vowed to increase the number of refugees from all countries to well over 100,000 annually, and wanted to increase the number of refugees from Syria by over 550 percent beyond FY 2016 arrivals, as Breitbart News reported:
In September 2016, President Obama made a controversial presidential determination that the ceiling for refugee resettlement in the United States for FY 2017 would be 110,000–a 29 percent increase from the ceiling of 85,000 he had set for the prior fiscal year (when Congress appropriated funds to resettle refugees at that ceiling).
But Congress was unable to come to an agreement on the budget for FY 2017 prior to the November 2016 election. In such cases, the “ceiling” reverts to the prior fiscal year, in this case 85,000, though without funding the administration is not required to resettle refugees at the ceiling number.
Indeed, the number of refugees to be resettled in FY 2017 became a significant issue in the election between President Trump and Hillary Clinton that fall.
Hillary Clinton was on the record stating we should increase the number of Syrian refugees resettled in the country by 550 percent, from 10,000 proposed for FY 2016 to 65,000 annually. She also signaled that under a Hillary Clinton administration, the annual refugee ceiling would be increased above 110,000–up to as much as 200,000.
The nine non-profit voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) that have received more than $1 billion annually from the federal government to resettle refugees across the country have been complaining loudly to anyone who will listen to them that the reduction of the taxpayer funded gravy train under the Trump administration is unfair.
Mary Giovagnoli, executive director of Refugee Council USA, the lobbying arm of the government-funded refugee resettlement industry, expressed that unhappiness last month while also misrepresenting the nature of the “ceiling” on refugee admissions established by President Trump in September.
At a time when the world faces its worst refugee crisis since World War II, the United States is failing in its very limited commitment of admitting 45,000 refugees by September 30 of this year. At the sixth-month mark, the Refugee Admissions program has admitted and resettled only 10,147 refugees thus far, making it seemingly impossible to resettle 45,000 refugees by the end of the fiscal year. Travel and refugee bans, administrative obstacles, and duplicative vetting requirements have slowed the flow of refugees to a trickle, threatening to devastate the U.S.’ refugee Resettlement Program.
Contrary to Giovagnoli’s statements, a presidential determination of a “ceiling” for refugee admissions for the subsequent fiscal year is not a “commitment,” but is, in fact, a ceiling.
The number of monthly arrivals for the first six months have varied from a low of 1,248 in October to 2,217 in the month of December.
In March, a total of 1,913 refugees were admitted into the United States – about the same as the 1,927 that arrived in February.
The countries of origin and the religions of the refugees arriving in the first six months of FY 2018 differ significantly from the countries of origin and religions of refugees that arrived during FY 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration.
The top five countries of origin for the first six months of FY 2018 are: Democratic Republic of Congo (2,569), Bhutan (1,925), Burma (1,769), Ukraine (1,176), and Eritrea (760).
The top five countries of origin for FY 2016 were: Democratic Republic of the Congo (16,730), Syria (12,587), Burma (12,347), Iraq (9,880), and Somalia (9,020).
As for religion, 63 percent of refugees who arrived in the first six months of FY 2018 were Christian and 17 percent were Muslim, according to the State Department interactive website.