State Department announces cuts to number of refugees U.S. admits

Here’s one bit of news which seemed to get lost in the stampede of Kavanaugh stories yesterday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the total number of refugees admitted to the United States over this fiscal year will be reduced by one third from the previous year’s limits. This is producing predictable results from the left and it’s a politically risky move this close to the midterms, but this was the time when the decision had to be made. The Washington Post was quick to begin jumping all over it.

The United States will admit no more than 30,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday, the lowest number in decades and a steep cut from the 45,000 allowed in this year.

The new number is less than half a percentage point of the almost 69 million refugees in the world today. But Pompeo said the United States remains the most generous nation in the world when other aid to refugees is taken into account.

He said the lower cap should not be the “sole barometer” of American humanitarian measures, but “must be considered in the context of the many other forms of protection and assistance offered by the United States.”

Pompeo is, of course, correct to point out that the raw number of refugees admitted is far from a true measure of the work the United States undertakes each year to assist those in crisis around the globe. Our military has freed countless people from oppression and foreign aid to at-risk populations flows from our coffers continuously. We also have massive NGO resources in America that help those in need in virtually every country where it’s required. To imply that the best measure of U.S. generosity is how many of those 69 million people we accept as residents is simply wrong and likely politically motivated.

Given that we will never be able to take in tens of millions (nor should that be our goal), the most productive thing we can do is to help stabilize the refugees’ home countries so it will be safe for them to return. That’s the point the Dalai Lama was making the other day, and he’s correct in his assessment. No matter how much sympathy we have for most of these refugees, we can’t simply throw up our hands and abandon those nations to evil tyrants. Unfortunately, until we receive more consistent cooperation from other major players like China and Russia, that work is going to be slow at best. If someone wants to complain about the amount of help refugees are receiving, perhaps they could have a word with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

With all that said, however, this is still a curious move on the administration’s part. The difference between 30,000 and 45,000 isn’t that vast. Granted, we need more resources to vet any refugees who apply for entry to weed out potential terror cell members, but this doesn’t sound like a dealbreaker in terms of those calculations. It’s simply far too easy for the Democrats to point to this and deliver more broadside accusations of racism, xenophobia or simple callousness. Doing it this close to the midterms, while necessary since the figures are calculated based on the fiscal year rather than the calendar year, presents yet another challenge for GOP candidates up and down the ticket. They’ll all no doubt be asked to take a stand on this decision, risking putting them at odds with Trump on what should have been a softball call to make.

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