By Contributor Isabel Blum
As asylum seekers are routinely being turned away at the Mexican border, the Trump administration continues to roll out new, but not necessarily improved, immigration policies. On September 26, President Trump announced his newest approach to dismantling the American immigration system: further cut the refugee resettlement limit from 30,000 to 18,000 people.
In typical Trump fashion, this drastic reduction comes almost exactly a year after his administration cut the annual ceiling from 45,000 refugees in 2018 and two years after a massive cut back from 110,000 refugees under the Obama administration.
Although a limit of 18,000 refugees is better than none, over half of the slots are already occupied by Iraqis, members of religious minorities, and migrants from the Northern Triangle, leaving only 7,500 available for the millions of other refugees to fight over. Opponents, including the ACLU, rushed to denounce the administration’s newest policy as inhumane.
Until President Trump entered office, the United States consistently resettled half or more of the world’s refugees each year, followed by Canada and Australia. Over 68 million men, women, and children are displaced worldwide, with the majority fleeing from Syria and Afghanistan, although President Trump’s policies are focused on stemming the flow from the Northern Triangle. Is President Trump abandoning millions of refugees at the border, or removing stress from America’s backlogged immigration system by limiting the number of asylees?
Despite the increase in displaced persons, President Trump describes the move as a “responsible approach” with the goal of encouraging refugees to rebuild the countries from which they fled. How realistic is this given their marginalized status? Why not use their skills to rebuild our broken nation? To that, the Trump administration responds by touting statistics of the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on refugees in the US, claiming immigrants strain the economy and government resources. In truth, immigrants are not to blame for America’s bloated welfare state; they use 39% fewer welfare benefits than native-born Americans and are strong contributors in tax money to the U.S. government. President Trump’s “America First” response is tired and obsolete, and the welfare state serves as one of many examples that disproves his never-ending Twitter rants.
Trump and I do agree on one aspect of immigration policy–that an unregulated open border policy is unreasonable as it would be an economic drain and create security threats–but his fear-mongering and number-slashing is far from a fair solution. Regardless of the numbers, President Trump’s isolationist message to refugees is a scare tactic that rings loud and clear: he wants them to stay away.