US Cuts Refugee Admissions, Creating Doubt for Tens of Thousands of Applicants 

The United States will admit a maximum of 15,000 refugees for fiscal 2021, an all-time low, according to a FILE – Malu Klo, an asylum-seeker from the Congo, attends a picnic for refugees at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, July 4, 2019.Quigley added that demand for resettlement is overwhelming, as less than 1 percent of refugees worldwide succeed in getting referred.“Refugee status entitles you to protections where you are. But it doesn’t entitle you to resettlement, so there’s upwards of 27 million refugees in the world right now,” she said.State’s responseContacted by VOA, a State Department spokesman declined to comment on whether refugees from Somalia, Yemen and Syria already in the resettlement process would be rejected based on their nationality or the lowered refugee cap.Friday’s notice specifies that exceptions can be made for refugees of the three restricted nations “who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of religion” or were referred by a U.S. embassy.It is unclear how many refugees out of the 27,023 individuals might fall into exempted categories.Political uncertaintyThe duration of the notice could depend on who occupies the White House in January.Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden vowed during the campaign to raise the refugee admissions ceiling to 125,000.Sarah Seniuk, advocacy and communications manager at the Refugee Council USA, said Biden could “immediately raise the refugee admissions goal for the coming year. In preparing to leave office, [President Barack] Obama had set for [fiscal] 2017 at 110,000, and upon his inauguration, [President Donald] Trump lowered the number down to 45,000.”Even if a new, higher number were to be set, refugee experts say it would take time to dramatically expand the program after years of seeing it shrink.Under Trump’s 2021 plan for refugees, there are 5,000 slots allocated for refugees facing religious persecution, 4,000 for refugees from Iraq who assisted the United States, and 1,000 for refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, leaving 5,000 for others.

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