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Don’t slam the door on refugees

September 30, 2019 05:39 pm

The Trump administration slashed refugee admissions once again for the upcoming fiscal year to 18,000. It’s the lowest number since the program was created in 1980.

Since President Donald Trump would have no qualms about sending four congresswomen who are different from him “back to where they come from,” it shouldn’t surprise us that he took measures to keep refugees out in the first place.

The new cap is nearly 50% of the administration’s prior historically low number of 30,000 for fiscal year 2019 and a fraction of the 110,000 benchmark President Barack Obama established in 2016. The U.S. State Department pointed to the crisis along the southern border and burdens on the U.S. immigration system as reasons for the drastic cuts.

No serious attempt was made to point out that Central America isn’t the only source of refugees in the world. According to Amnesty International, there were 1.1 million new refugees in 2018, most of them fleeing conflict in Syria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And President Trump might be interested to know the United States — despite his obstinate policy that asylum seekers and refugees have no place here, with the possible exception of Norwegians — isn’t among the top 10 refugee host nations.

According to Amnesty International, the world’s top 10 refugee host countries, in descending order, are Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Uganda, Germany, Iran, Ethiopia, Sudan and Bangladesh.

For upstate New York, which has relied on refugee resettlement to offset population decline and stimulate the economy, the lower cap is troubling. Upstate resettles nearly 90% of the refugees who come to New York, according to the New York state Department of State.

President Trump’s action comes at a particularly bad time for upstate. A good infrastructure for resettling refugees is in place. It may not be the perfect system, but it’s working.

Refugees are accepted in upstate communities and employers are hiring refugees. Refugees help reverse population decline, they start new businesses that create jobs and those businesses boost tax revenues. Slashing the refugee admissions program runs counter to national values and economic interests.

Last time we looked, the United States is still the land of opportunity and refugees seize that opportunity and help communities thrive. The Trump administration would do well to remember that.