In Consultation After Legally-Required Deadline, Durbin Presses Trump Administration On Dismal Refugee Resettlement Goal

In A Meeting With Secretary Pompeo And Acting USCIS Director Cuccinelli, Durbin Called Out Trump Admin’s Decision To Further Erode U.S. Role As Worldwide Leader On Refugees

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, today met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ken Cuccinelli to press the Trump Administration on its dismal refugee resettlement goal of merely 18,000 to the U.S. in the coming year.

Prior to any presidential determination on the number of refugees to be admitted in the upcoming fiscal year, the law requires that Cabinet-level officials representing the President engage in an in-person consultation with Senate and House Judiciary Committee leaders.  The law is clear that the consultation must occur before the start of the fiscal year.  This consultation, on October 15, is after the start of the new fiscal year and in violation of the statute.  For the third year in a row, the Trump Administration willfully disregarded the law regarding their obligation to consult with Congress prior to the end of the fiscal year. 

“Our nation has safely and successfully resettled millions of refugees from across the world over several decades with strong bipartisan support.  Sadly, in the midst of the worst refugee crisis in history, the Trump Administration has dropped America’s moral standing to a new low by setting a refugee admissions goal of only 18,000,” Durbin said.  “The Administration’s actions are a betrayal of a longstanding bipartisan tradition that will punish innocent victims of persecution and further damage America’s reputation around the world.”

Last month, Durbin and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pressed the Trump Administration to immediately engage in meaningful consultations with Congress, as required by law, before setting the annual refugee admission target for next year. 

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were more than 70 million people displaced in 2018, a record high.  Among this displaced population are 25.9 million refugees, more than half of whom are children.  UNHCR estimates that in 2019, 1.4 million refugees will need resettlement. 

The U.S. began setting refugee admission targets in 1980 after the passage of the Refugee Act, and until the Trump Administration, the goal had averaged 95,000 since 1980 and had never been set below 67,000.  Since 1980, the U.S. resettled an average of more than 80,000 refugees per year until the Trump Administration set the refugee admissions goal for Fiscal Year 2018 at merely 45,000, the lowest target in history, and failed to resettle even half that number.  For Fiscal Year 2019, the Administration slashed the refugee goal again, to a mere 30,000.  Now the Administration has cut the target even further, to 18,000, by far the lowest since the Refugee Act of 1980