One of Trump’s signature pledges as a candidate and as President has been to limit the flow of Muslim migration via the federal refugee program. After battling the courts and media for months, it appears Trump’s fight for “extreme vetting” is at last bearing fruit.
In his eight months in office, President Trump slashed the flow of refugees by half of what it was under Barack Obama, the Washington Times reported. Additionally, the make-up of refugee demographics has been significantly altered, with more Christian than Muslim refugees being admitted for resettling.
The Obama administration set a 110,000 refugee target. Trump aimed at reducing that figure to 50,000. Despite opposition, Trump brought refugee admittances down to 53,000 with a few days left in the fiscal year — just slightly above his goal.
As significant as the reduction in refugee levels is, the composition of refugee populations has also changed. Under Obama, Muslims made up nearly a half of all refugees. About 15 percent came from Syria, home of the Islamic State.
Trump’s tightening up of America’s vetting system has resulted in fewer Muslims and Syrians. Muslims are now only slightly more than a third of all refugees, while Syrians dropped to eight percent.
Meanwhile, Christians increased from 43 percent to 53 percent of all refugees admitted into the country.
Trump is considering bringing his 50,000 refugee cap even lower for 2018. He has yet to make an announcement, but reports indicate the White House wants to bring the number down to 45,000.
The political left has repeatedly fought President Trump’s measures. A federal court ruled that the US must allow refugees who have “close” family ties in the country. Nevertheless, Trump’s agenda has marched along, as he himself has acknowledged.
In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
While refugee advocates are disappointed in the Trump administration cap, security analysts say the tougher screening — particularly for Syrians — is a necessity. They argue that the turmoil in Syria has caused a broken system in which the US in unable to access databases to determine the background of would-be refugees.
The global community is adjusting to the new expectations set by the Trump administration. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which recommends potential refugees to UN members, went from recommending America 35,000 refugees last year to recommending only 3,591 between January and July.
Although Trump continues to struggle with Congress over support for his legislative agenda, limiting refugee flow is one of the areas in which he has free reign to meaningfully deliver to his base. If he continues making progress with screening and vetting, he’ll solidify his support for 2020.