USA slashes refugee intake to 45000, humanitarian groups decries move

The 45,000 cap, to be formally announced by President Donald Trump in the coming days, reflects the maximum the USA will admit during the fiscal year that starts on Sunday (local time), although the actual number allowed could be far lower. By law, the president is required to consult with members of Congress about the number of refugee admissions before the start of each fiscal year, on October 1.The number of refugees actually admitted to the country, which can fall below the cap, dropped to its lowest in the fiscal year after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks with only around 27,000 admitted.

But Trump administration officials said the new cap will advance national security interests and reflect the United States' capacity to properly screen and take in refugees.

The United States provides cultural orientation programs that help refugees learn English or assimilate into American culture once individuals arrive, but creating criteria for knowing the English language or a particular skill is a departure from the idea that refugees-who forced to flee their country due to persecution or violence-must learn a culture and prove assimilation before resources are provided.

The intake of refugees was halted shortly after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, when he ordered a six-month review of security procedures for vetting new arrivals.

"The security and safety of the American people is our chief concern", a USA official said in a call with reporters on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the shift.

In the 2016 fiscal year, the United States accepted 84,995 refugees from around the world. "It's tragic", said Mr Robert Carey, former director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement under former president Barack Obama. They said no decision was final until formally announced by the president.

More than half of the world's refugees come from just three countries: Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan.

The caps set a top limit, and the US does not always reach the cap. "The threat of a drastically low ceiling on refugee arrivals in the U.S. is contrary to American values and the spirit of generosity in American churches and communities".

These developments would not be surprising, given the president's statements suggesting that the USA refugee resettlement program is a threat to national security.

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Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of Catholic aid groups that serve those in need on the ground in countries around the world, began an worldwide "Share the Journey" campaign on Wednesday, inviting Catholics to hear the stories of migrants and refugees, welcome them into their communities, and advocate for policies that would support migrants seeking a better life.

While the report does not say assimilation will be a primary factor, that it is a consideration at all is a major policy change from previous years, when the basis of the program was on the need of refugees for protection.

Trump has advocated keeping refugees closer to their homes. He said there is enough money at DHS to do both "if the administration actually cared about refugees". And top White House advisers, including Stephen Miller, argued for a much lower cap in the first place.

Although Trump continues to struggle with Congress over support for his legislative agenda, limiting refugee flow is one of the areas in which he has free reign to meaningfully deliver to his base.

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