Christian Groups Speak Out After Report Saying Trump is Considering Reducing Refugee Resettlement Cap by 40 Percent

Syrian refugee Baraa Haj Khalaf holds her daughter as she greets people at O’Hare International Airport with her husband Abdulmajeed (L) on February 7, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Baraa Haj Khalaf and her family were previously banned from entering the United States after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from entering the country. The Justice Department faced tough questioning as it urged a court of appeals to reinstate President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries — put on hold by the courts last week. (Photo credit: JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

Christian groups are speaking out after a report this week indicates that President Donald Trump is mulling a 40 percent cut to the already historically low limit on refugees being resettled to the United States.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the White House is considering reducing the refugee resettlement cap for the next fiscal year, although the 45,000-refugee cap set by the president for fiscal year 2018 is already the lowest limit set by a president since the passing of the Refugee Act of 1980.

The newspaper cited two former government officials and a source familiar with the situation to state that the president is weighing one plan that would allow for no more than 25,000 refugees to be resettled in fiscal year 2019, which begins on Oct. 1.

Although a 25,000-refugee cap would signify a reduction of about 20,000 refugees from this year’s limit, it appears that the administration won’t even resettle 25,000 refugees in the current fiscal year. By comparison, the Obama administration resettled nearly 85,000 refugees in fiscal year 2016, the administration’s last full fiscal year in office.

Matthew Soerens, the director of church mobilization at the refugee resettlement organization World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, took to Twitter to voice his concern after reading The New York Times report.

“This year, for the first time in my lifetime at least, the US will no longer hold the title of the nation that resettles the most refugees,” Soerens wrote. “We are on track for about 22,000 in 2018; Canada will almost certainly welcome more, though roughly one-tenth the size of the US.”

As Soerens and World Relief have long spoken out about the Trump administration’s refugee policy, he admitted in his tweet that he is “not sure what else to do.” It should be noted that World Relief and other resettlement organizations have had to downsize and close offices in response to the administration’s slowing of the refugee flow.

“I’m praying for @potus, who ultimately has the authority here, [and] for [Secretary of State Mike Pompeo], who has been outspoken in advocating for persecuted religious minorities [and] could override those under his leadership advocating further cuts to their resettlement,” he continued.

Although the president’s efforts to reduce the refugee cap for fiscal year 2018 were met with opposition within the administration, The New York Times notes that White House senior adviser Stephen Miller — a key figure behind the administration’s immigration policies — has been successful when it comes to “installing allies in key positions who are ready to sign off on deep cuts.”

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, who were among the cabinet members who objected to Trump’s immigration policies last year, have been replaced with Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Although there is hope that the State Department will push back on a refugee resettlement cut, the sources warned the outlet that Pompeo is being advised by two senior aides who are close to Miller.

“In determining an appropriate refugee ceiling for 2019, the administration will consider the entire humanitarian caseload, legal and illegal — including asylum-seeking refugees, non-asylum seeking refugees and other categories such as special immigrant juveniles, unaccompanied alien minors, temporary protected status and other related programs,” an unnamed White House official was quoted as saying.

The Christian Post reached out to both the State Department and Department of Homeland Security for comment on the report. A State Department spokesperson would only say that the president’s determination on the refugee ceiling will be made prior to the start of the fiscal year. The Department of Homeland Security did not respond by press time.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith