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U.S. lags far behind in its commitment to admit 45,000 refugees this year

Halfway through the fiscal year, the Trump Administration is woefully behind on refugee admissions. The consequences for those in need are dire.

Midway through the 2018 fiscal year, which ends September 30, just 10,584 refugees have been resettled to the United States. By contrast, 39,098 refugees were welcomed to the U.S. in the first half of the 2017 fiscal year—even with the slowdown on admissions due to the Trump Administration’s refugee bans. This decline in refugee admissions represents a stark 73 percent year-over-year drop. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) projects that a series of excessive red-tape vetting and processing changes will result in no more than 23,000 refugees being resettled in FY18, barely achieving 50 percent of the ceiling.

There are over 1 million refugees awaiting resettlement by welcoming nations this year, the most vulnerable of the 22.5 million refugees worldwide. These are refugees whose safety cannot be secured in their countries of first refuge; over half of them are children.

Said Hans Van de Weerd, Vice President, US Programs, International Rescue Committee:

“Halfway through FY18, the U.S. is establishing a record on resettlement that runs counter to core American values of freedom and welcome and strategic interests abroad.

“Drastically diminished refugee arrivals have detrimental consequences for U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, including fueling the anti-American narratives of the very terrorist organizations we aim to defeat. The Trump Administration must change course in the second half of FY18 and meet its commitment to admit 45,000 refugees.”

The numbers—representing human lives—speak for themselves:

Shocking drop in March in admissions of those who assisted U.S. missions

  • Without explanation, only 510 Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients arrived during the month of March, a more than 68 percent drop compared to average monthly arrivals in FY17.
  • Total SIV arrivals overall in the first half of FY18 have declined by 28 percent compared to the same time period in FY17.

U.S.-affiliated Iraqis (P-2s) left behind

  • U.S.-affiliated Iraqis are individuals who provided critical services, like translation, to U.S. missions abroad and now face persecution as a result.
  • Conservative estimates suggest that there are approximately 50,000 Iraqis with close affiliations with the U.S. government waiting for interviews to have their cases for resettlement processed. 
  • Yet, only 36 U.S.-affiliated Iraqis have arrived in FY18.

99 percent drop in Syrian refugee resettlement  

  • Only 44 Syrian refugees have been resettled in FY18.
  • By comparison, 5,839 Syrian refugees were resettled over the same period in FY17. Nearly half were under the age of 14.
  • This represents a 99 percent decline in the resettlement of Syrian refugees, at a time when over 5.4 million Syrians have been displaced by horrific violence against civilians.
  • The paltry number admitted even falls below the death toll of this week’s chemical weapon attack, which currently stands at over 70 people.

Promise broken to Central American children   

  • The termination of the Central American Minors (CAM) program in November has resulted in 3,800 children having their cases administratively closed, without having their claims for protection heard. 
  • CAM provided a critical pathway to protection for children to escape violence and persecution and reunite with their parents living lawfully in the U.S., without having to embark on a dangerous and often deadly journey to the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • These kids put their lives on the line, often coming out of hiding in their countries to apply for protection, and the U.S. turned its back on them. 

The Trump Administration may have turned its back on refugees, but communities across the country have not.

Despite low arrivals, the IRC witnesses firsthand, and on a daily basis, the strong desire to welcome refugees and support refugee resettlement in the communities where we work across the U.S. In FY17, the IRC saw a 97 percent increase in volunteer applications compared to the previous fiscal year. We continue to be moved by this call from everyday Americans to welcome and integrate refugees into their communities.  

The American people have made their support for refugee resettlement clear in their communities. Now, we are calling upon our partners and supporters to call their Members of Congress and demand that the Administration be held accountable to its promise to resettle all 45,000 refugees in FY18.  

It’s time to pressure the Administration to pick up the pace on refugee resettlement. Take action now.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.