“Administration officials are facing an October 1 deadline to confer with members of Congress over what the refugee admissions cap should be for the next fiscal year, as required by law. Last year, however, the administration didn’t hold that meeting until October 5 and it wasn’t until November 1 that it announced the new cap, which was set at 18,000 — the lowest since the refugee program was created in 1980 and down from 110,000 when Trump took office.”
“Joe Biden, the party’s presidential nominee, has pledged to take in up to 125,000 refugees in the year after he takes office and increase admissions “commensurate with our responsibility, our values and the unprecedented global need.””
“Former President George W. Bush briefly cut the number of refugees admitted after the 9/11 attacks, but even then the limit was set at 70,000.
But the bipartisan consensus on maintaining a robust refugee resettlement program began to unravel after the Paris terror attacks in late 2015, said Yael Schacher, senior US advocate for Refugees International, when suicide bombers — reportedly sanctioned by the Islamic State — killed 130 civilians in explosions and mass shootings throughout the city.
There was speculation that one of the attackers was a refugee, one of 5.6 million Syrians who have been displaced since 2011 by the still-ongoing civil war. It was later confirmed that all of the perpetrators were citizens of the European Union. But the rumors were enough to spark a panic about Syrian refugees and start a movement at the state level to cut back US admissions of Syrian refugees and resettlement efforts more broadly.
Governors from 31 states, all Republican but for New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan, said in 2015 that they no longer wanted their state to take in Syrian refugees. In 2016, Mike Pence, then the governor of Indiana, also tried to prevent refugee resettlement agencies in his state from getting reimbursed for the cost of providing social services to Syrian refugees.
But states didn’t have the legal authority to simply refuse refugees; that’s the prerogative of the federal government. Pence ultimately had to back down after a federal court ruled against his decision to withhold the reimbursements.Trump, then campaigning for president, stirred up more fear, suggesting that Syrian refugees were raising an army to launch an attack on the US and promising that all of them would be “going back” if he won the election. He said that he would tell Syrian children to their faces that they could not come to the US, speculating that they could be a “Trojan horse.”
When Trump eventually took office, he delivered on his promise to slash refugee admissions from Syria, suspending refugee admissions altogether from January to October 2017. From October 2017 to October 2018, the US admitted only 62.”