** LEGAL UPDATE **
Every year, the United States admits refugees who are unable to or fearful of returning to their country of origin, because they have or are likely to face persecution there. Many other countries do the same, for humanitarian reasons and as a matter of international law. Specifically, the U.S. and other countries have signed on to the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocols relating to the Status of Refugees. The refugee admission process is administered by the U.S. Refugees Admissions Program or USRAP.
The exact number of refugees to be admitted to the U.S. is, however, a matter for individual countries' discretion. The highest number allowed to enter under the Obama administration was, for example (according to a Pew Research Center report) 84,995 in the fiscal year ending in September 2016. And the lowest previous limit, according to Bloomberg, was set in 1986, when President Ronald Reagan capped refugee admissions at 67,000.
When President Barack Obama spoke to a refugee summit at the United Nations in 2017, he pledged that the U.S. would bring the number of resettled refugees up to 110,000 in the year 2018.
But the Trump Administration is taking this in the opposite direction. It proposes to reduce the number of incoming refugees to the lowest it has been in years, for a total of 45,000 entrants. (See September 29, 2017 Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of State.)
Specifically, here is how many total refugees will be allowed from various regions around the globe:
Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19,000
East Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5,000
Europe and Central Asia .. . . 2,000
Latin America/Caribbean . . . 1,500
Near East/South Asia . . .. . . 17,500
Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch, commented: “This action not only cuts a lifeline for thousands of refugees, but sends a message to countries on the front line of the crisis, from Bangladesh to Lebanon to Kenya, that U.S. pledges of support can no longer be trusted.”
Effective Date: September 29, 2017