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Capping on Refugees During Trump’s Tenure


For a very long time, the United States of America has been offering a safe haven for people running away from persecution, tyranny, and violence. Today, more people are being uprooted from their countries by wars as well as crises. The United States act of providing resettlement t these refugees provides them with a lifesaving humanitarian imperative that should be copied by many countries worldwide. Each year, the president of the US holds some consultations with Congress to set the annual refugee admission targets. The capping of refugee settlement or setting a ceiling for refugee admission by the president is called Presidential Determination. It is often issued before October 1st, the start of a new fiscal year in the United States.

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My Position

Before former President Donald Trump’s tenure, the average yearly ceiling was above 95,000 admissions. However, other presidents had also set their ceilings at different levels. For instance, former president Barrack Obama’s set refugee admissions were 110,000 for the year 2017. Former President Donald Trump’s administration lowered the annual refugee admission target to only 15,000 for 2021. This is the lowest number ever to be set by an administration since the US Refugee Admissions Program was created in 1980, becoming the fourth-lowest consecutive target in the history of the US. This was a dangerous trend that I feel needed to be urgently reversed so that the targets could be increased once again.

Luckily, following the four years of low-record refugee arrivals, the current president of the US, Joe Biden, has been presented with an opportunity of restoring the country’s bipartisan tradition of refugee admission. I can also say that the president has made a move in the right direction by signing an Emergency Revised Presidential Determination, which has raised the target for the fiscal year 2021 to 62,500. This followed the American’s call for his administration to restore the country’s welcoming legacy. The president also raised this target by removing the previous administration’s discriminatory approach that targeted people from the Middle East and Africa, leaving many families separated.

Reasons for My Position

There are so many reasons why I agree that raising the refugee admission target to the country was a good move by the president. First, people are fleeing their war-torn countries across the world at record levels. On average, 24,000 people fled their homes in 2019 each day. This represents about one percent of humanity being displaced by force. Out of these displaced people, approximately 26 million are refugees forced to seek safety by crossing an international border. There are no signs of the refugee crisis coming to an end soon because of the deterioration of conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan, and Afghanistan. Therefore, when the US welcomes these people and gives them this opportunity, it plays a role in providing a basic global humanitarian need.

Secondly, refugee admission into the United States reflects the values of Americans. Every president in the US ensures that the country is a leader during times of crisis. Therefore, they have rejected any ideology that contradicts American values and supported refugees seeking liberty. The American values seek to uphold human dignity, commitment to stop and prevent discrimination, and the right to equal treatment. Therefore, the sitting administration must continue to safeguard these values by providing unwavering welcome and support to refugees who have fled displacement crises like those in Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia.

Thirdly, through refugee resettlement, American strategic interests are advanced abroad. As the country welcomes more refugees, it helps its allies host more than they should. Currently, the poorest countries in the world are hosting the majority of the refugees, with low and middle-income countries hosting about 85 percent of the world’s refugees. It is also important to note that they are already affected by malnutrition and severe food insecurity as they do this. Therefore, if the US fails to lead the way in welcoming refugees, other countries may close their borders and force refugees to return. This will, in turn, affect regional stability as well as security, including the US missions’ security in the affected regions. For this reason, I support the current administration’s decision to raise the ceiling for refugee admission if other countries are to be encouraged to do more.

Additionally, the admission of refugees is good for the country’s economy since some refugees are entrepreneurs, others taxpayers, and others consumers, who create jobs and contribute to the country’s economic growth. The country’s resettlement program’s design ensures that refugees are helped to quickly achieve self-sufficiency. In addition, some refugees have become ambassadors, company CEOs, as well as influential cultural and economic figures like Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google. Further, during the COVID-19 crisis, refugees took part in sustaining essential industries that kept the country and its communities afloat, like the food and healthcare industries.

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I recommend that the country continue raising the ceiling for refugee admission because of the benefits that it can get from this action. The country’s administration can achieve this by ensuring that the consultations between the president and Congress are held open with the global humanitarian need in mind. Secondly, the president should avoid discrimination like the one witnessed in the previous administration that targeted people from specific regions. It is important to note that these regions are the worst hit by wars leading to displacements. Therefore, the president and the entire country’s administration need to show the leadership it has shown in the past so that more countries can be encouraged to do so. Moreover, in his Presidential Determination, I suggest that the president reviews the current refugee capping. This would enhance a true reflection of the actual numbers of refugees seeking settlement in the US and offer admission to those refugees that would get that opportunity.


Kerwin, Donald. “The US refugee resettlement program—A return to first principles: How refugees help to define, strengthen, and revitalize the United States.” Journal on Migration and Human Security 6.3 (2018): 205-225.

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