Trump Administration To Drastically Reduce Refugee Resettlement in 2019

Trump Administration To Drastically Reduce Refugee Resettlement in 2019 September 18, 2018

On Monday the 17th, the Trump Administration announced that they would be drastically reducing the number of refugees allowed to settle in the United States in 2019. Reporting on this in the New York Times, Julie Davis wrote:

President Trump plans to cap the number of refugees that can be resettled in the United States next year at 30,000, his administration announced on Monday, further cutting an already drastically scaled-back program that offers protection to foreigners fleeing violence and persecution.[1]

This comes after Dara Lin reported in Vox that the Trump Administration had already been cutting back and allowing less refugees resettle in the United States than they had originally indicated they would allow, with refugees from Europe seemingly given preference over others:

While refugee arrivals from other parts of the world are down as much as 90 percent from Obama-era levels, resettlements from Europe — specifically, the former Soviet Union — have taken only a modest hit. In the rest of the world, the Trump administration isn’t going to come anywhere close to the “ceilings” it set for the fiscal year ending September 30. Resettlements from Africa are less than half of the “ceiling.” In the Near East and South Asia, the administration set a fiscal year 2018 ceiling of 17,500 — as of the end of August, with one month of the fiscal year left, it had resettled 3,642.[2]

The cries of those fleeing extreme violence and persecution, both of which are on the rise around the world, falls upon deaf ears when they ask the Trump Administration for aid. They are scorned. They are told to go back. Only a few, those whom Trump seems to favor, for one reason or another, are given the possibility of being well-received within the United States, even though the United States, with its central role in the affairs of the world, is morally much more responsible for the fate of the world and the people who suffer in it. This is because much more is expected out of those who possess greater wealth and power than those who do not.

We must not fret as to how and why they make their route to the United States. As Pope Francis explained on the 51st World Peace Day,  those who need the greatest aid are desperate, and if they find themselves being blocked entry into a place of peace and protection, because of the selfishness of the leaders of the world, they will take matters in their own hands and ignore unjust laws which would leave them to die: “Some, however, take different routes, mainly out of desperation, when their own countries offer neither safety nor opportunity, and every legal pathway appears impractical, blocked or too slow.” [3] Instead of responding to them with hate and fear, we must recognize their practical situation, and help them, indeed, welcome them as God would have everyone welcome the needy stranger. ‘In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands.”[4] If we do not, we face the truly just judge, who will not take kindly to our dismissal of those in need:

Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ (Matt.  25:41-3 RSV).

Jesus, in his parable of the last judgment, merely echoes what the prophets already declared about those who mistreat the needy:

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts (Mal. 3:5 RSV).

The problem, of course, is more than a problem for the United States. It is a problem for the whole world, as Ban Ki-Moon wrote in the New York Times: “Despite the scale of the refugee challenge, we need to think of it first and foremost as a crisis of solidarity. Whether the world can come together to effectively support these vulnerable groups will be a true test of our collective conscience.”[5] The powers that be around the world must work together to help those fleeing persecution, to give them a place to stay where they can once again find peace and dignity.  The United States, however, cannot argue that it has done its part by allowing an extremely low number of refugees resettle within its dominion. It must work to make sure all refugees have a place to stay, and that means not only opening itself up to more refugees within the confines of its boundaries, but also working with other countries, making sure that they are also encouraged to take in more refugees themselves. But if the United States will not take the lead, why should it expect other countries will do what it is unwilling to do itself? The effort requires the United States to do its part; because of its place in the world, that part will be greater than any other, but it does not mean it can or should do this alone. It is a world problem, and the solution will require the world to work together and find ways not only to resettle refugees, but to stop the persecution and violence which makes them need to resettle away from their home.

Sadly, the Trump Administration does not seem interested in the plight of the refugees. Rather, it seems interested in mistreating them, making it more difficult for them to find their needs met. The United States, far from being one of the moral leaders of the world, has joined in with the oppressors, verifying the lamentations of the Preacher:

Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them.  (Eccl. 4:1 RSV).

[IMG=Hands Help Fear Refugees [CC0 Creative Commons] via pixabay]


[1] Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Trump to Cap Refugees Allowed Into U.S. at 30,000, a Record Low.” New York Times (9-17-2018)

[2] Dara Lind, “Under Trump, refugee admissions are falling way short — except for Europeans.”   Vox (9-17-2018).

[3]Pope Francis, “Message for the 51 World Day of Peace.” Vatican translation. (1-01-2018). ¶2,

[4][4] Pope Francis, “Message for the 51 World Day of Peace.” Vatican translation. (1-01-2018). ¶1.

[5] Ban Ki-Moon, “The Refugee Crisis Is a Test of Our Collective Conscience.” New York Times (9-16-2018).

 

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