The New York Times Company
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said it would cut its already rock-bottom refugee admissions still deeper into record territory for the upcoming year, as President Donald Trump returned to his anti-immigrant themes in the closing month of his reelection campaign.
The change in the number of refugees that Trump plans to admit is not drastic: no more than 15,000 in the fiscal year that began Thursday, down from 18,000 in the 2020 fiscal year, which was a record low. The number was set in a notice sent to Congress late Wednesday, shortly before the statutory deadline to set the new limit.
Both numbers are slivers of the 110,000 slots that President Barack Obama approved in 2016. The big cut in 2020 virtually sealed off a pathway for the persecuted into the country and obliterated the once-robust American reputation as a sanctuary for the oppressed.
But the cut signaled that Trump is willing to take his exclusionary immigration policies still further, and it was delivered to Congress as the president was unleashing a xenophobic tirade against one of the nation’s most prominent refugees, Rep. Ilhan Omar, on Wednesday night at a rally in her home state, Minnesota.
Trump has frequently equated refugees with terrorists, despite the fact that the families are subject to extensive security screenings before coming to the United States. His campaign also warns voters that refugees will take their jobs and cost the government money, a charge that has been refuted in many studies.
In Omar, Trump seems to believe he has found the prime target of that strategy.
“She tells us how to run our country, can you believe it?” he thundered at his rally in Duluth, Minnesota. “How the hell did Minnesota elect her? What the hell is wrong with you people — right? What the hell happened?”
And he has tried to link her liberal politics to his opponent, Biden, who has said he would reset the refugee cap at 125,000 if elected.
The 15,000 cap is the latest step in one of the central aims for Trump during his first term: to close the United States to immigrants. The broad effort has included restricting travel from African and Muslim-majority countries and sealing the land borders of the United States to migrants fleeing persecution, even as the United Nations reported this year that nearly 80 million people have been displaced by oppression and war.