For the first time in decades, the U.S. did not admit any refugees last month. The State Department delayed refugee admissions three times, cancelling the flights of approximately 500 refugees who had already been told they could enter the U.S. The fees associated with cancelling and rebooking are expected to fall on taxpayers.
"We will work with our implementing partners to plan for a resumption of refugee arrivals, including rescheduling travel for those affected by the extension," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
This is not the first time the U.S. has suspended refugee admissions. The Bush administration did this in 2003 in response to 9/11. In 2017, Trump froze admissions to review the vetting procedure.
However, according to Danielle Grigsby of Refugee Council USA, these recent delays are unprecedented. "We are systematically re-traumatizing people who have already been through a significant amount of trauma,” said Grigsby. “It's unconscionable."
According to a report by the United Nations' refugee agency, the Syrian crisis has only worsened. Recently, 12,000 refugees have fled to the agency’s shelters, and various refugee resettlement agencies are now unsure of what to expect from the United States. Bethany Christian Services, for example, was anticipating the opportunity to send unaccompanied minors into foster homes in October. Since the delays, some of the minors have turned 18, and they will now have to wait in the refugee shelters indefinitely. Other refugees are concerned because their medical exams and security checks will soon expire.
Nate Bult, Vice President of Public and Government Affairs at Bethany Christian Services, explained how difficult it is to call families repeatedly with the news that their reunion has been delayed. “When you get that phone call once, twice, three times,” he said, “the refugees we’re working with are concerned it may never happen.”
Currently, the cap for refugee admissions is 30,000. In a new proposal by the Trump Administration, the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. in 2020 will be capped at 18,000, the lowest number since the program’s creation in 1980.
“The fact that not one refugee was resettled - and not one refugee family reunited in the United States in the month of October - is a remarkable low point with no justification,” said Hans Van de Weerd, Vice President of Resettlement, Asylum, and Integration at the International Rescue Committee. “While we stand firm that a refugee admissions level of 18,000 refugees is woefully inadequate, we will look to the administration to ensure that it meets this commitment.”
With a concentration on family- and humanitarian-based law, our attorneys at Klinke Immigration help immigrants from around the world reach a safe environment and a fresh start. We understand the trauma you may be leaving behind, and we will provide you with the compassion and respect you deserve. Our goal is your security. Schedule your free consultation with our firm or call (678) 496-2990 today.