Trump proposes to significantly slash refugee admission
BY USMAN MAMA
The overall admission of refugees in the United States will decrease from its current level of 45,000 to 30,000 next year, the Trump administration announced this week. This will translate to the lowest refugee admission in the country since 1980, with a noticeable impact on Africa.
Of the 45,000 refugees the United States was expected to take in this fiscal year, 19,000—that is 40 percent—were supposed to come from Africa. But so far, less than two weeks before the end of the fiscal year which ends on 30 September, only 9,007 African refugees have been settled in America. The overwhelming majority of them came from the Democratic Republic of Congo (6,820), followed by Ethiopia (261), Somalia (250), Burundi (157), and Central African Republic (136). Just recently, in the first two weeks of September, the United States admitted another group of 559 refugees, but it is too early to have the breakdown by nationality.
Other regions of the world have also seen their refugee admission in the United States lie below the fiscal year’s ceiling.
Typically, the bulk of the refugees are referred to the U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, or designated nongovernmental organizations. Five thousand Congolese nationals living in Rwanda and Tanzania, and 500 asylum seekers (with immediate families living in the U.S. who themselves have asylum status) are part of the newcomers.
While the rate of admission this year is way under the anticipated number, it does happen that the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. go above the allocated ceiling. Case in point: in 2016, America took in 31,000 refugees against a planned ceiling of 27,000.
The eligibility for refugee status in the United States is determined by the officials on a case-by-case process. Applicants are required to demonstrate well-founded reasons such as the fear of persecution based on religion, political affiliation, and more. Once approved following a tough vetting by several U.S. government agencies, applicants still have to wait until a refugee admission number is available before being flown to the United States.
For decades, Africa has had a serious refugee problem due to the violence resulting from wars in several regions of the continent. Despite the continent now being shaken by fewer such wars, the continent still has a huge refugee population, both the internationally-displaced people and those still living in their countries but forced out of their homes.
The recently-announced slash in the refugee admission by the Trump administration is viewed as yet another proof of Trump’s indifference to the vulnerable segments of the world’s population in general, and those of Africa in particular.
Given that past attempts by the executive branch to reduce refugee admission to the United States have been overturned by Congress, analysts tell The African there is hope the ceiling will remain the same next year as it is this year, thanks to congressional action.