Maintaining our borders, protecting our citizens from an overabundance of illegal immigrants infiltrating the country, and reducing the number of aliens on federal and state aid are promises President Donald Trump made and is committed to achieving. Another step in that direction came from his recent approval of capping the number of refugee admissions for fiscal 2020 to 18,000, the lowest amount on record since the original program began in 1980.
In a White House brief, Trump said:
“This proposed ceiling takes into account the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis on our border and the massive asylum backlog, which now includes nearly one million individuals.
“The overwhelming backlog is completely unsustainable and needs to be addressed before we accept large numbers of refugees.”
The brief went on to explain the tremendous financial cost to the American people, indicating that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spent more than $96 billion on programs that supported or benefited refugees between 2005 and 2014. An HHS survey indicated that of the immigrant arrivals between 2011 and 2015, about 45% were receiving cash and 49% were receiving Medicaid.
According to the State Department, 368,000 new refugees and asylum claims are expected in 2020. Trump’s proposal will admit 18,000 to be resettled under the new ceiling, but the administration also anticipates processing more than 350,000 individuals in new asylum cases.
To put that into perspective, the refugee ceiling was at 85,000 during the last year of the Obama administration. Trump set the limit at 30,000 for this year.
Immigration advocates are protesting the move, claiming it will hurt the country instead of improving it. Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) said he will continue to allow immigrants into his state. In a letter to the president, he said, “To reject refugees outright emboldens the message of those who seek to inspire hatred by saying that we, as Americans, do not have compassion or care for specific groups of people in the world facing persecution or worse.”
However, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated:
“[T]he core of the Trump Administration’s foreign policy is a commitment to make decisions based on reality, not wishes, and to drive optimal outcomes based on concrete facts. This year’s determination on refugee admissions does just that, even as we sustain our longstanding commitment to help vulnerable populations and our leadership as the world’s most generous nation.”
Humanitarianism is noble and right. However, before we can help others, we need to help ourselves. This is the concept conservatives have been trying to get liberals to see for some time now. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said, “The current burdens on the U.S. immigration system must be alleviated before it is again possible to resettle large numbers of refugees. Prioritizing the humanitarian protection cases of those already in our country is simply a matter of fairness and common sense.”
Common sense makes sense. We have homeless veterans and hungry children – American citizens – who desperately need assistance, too. Some of that $96 billion spent on immigrants might have been used to ease the suffering of our citizens.