Strack and other ex-officials say they’re worried about a downward spiral in the United States’ ability to admit vulnerable people fleeing dire conditions of war, extreme poverty, persecution, or natural disaster. Lowered admissions ceilings can lead to the U.S. cutting off resources for resettling refugees, which can in turn prompt anti-refugee officials to cite the diminished capacity for lowering the ceilings further—sparking a structural degeneration in infrastructure for admitting refugees that threatens to outlive the Trump administration.

“We’ve completely abandoned leadership [on refugees] and a commitment to their protection at a time when world needs couldn’t be higher,” Strack added. “That’s not a good national security posture. There’s a fundamental notion of otherness for refugees, as opposed to saying ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’”