• Press Release

New Admissions Refugee Cap by the President is an Attempt to Further Hate and Division

September 26, 2019

Yellow and white graphic with the Amnesty international logo on the bottom left and the word
Reacting to the news that U.S. President Donald Trump has set the refugee admissions number to 18,000 for Fiscal year 2020, and the accompanying Executive Order allowing state and local jurisdictions to deny refugees to be resettled in their community, despite having been approved for resettlement to the United States, Ryan Mace, Grassroots Advocacy and Refugee Specialist at Amnesty International USA said:

“To cut the number of refugees the U.S. will accept to this low of a number reflects nothing more than this administration’s attempts to further hate, division, and prejudice in a country that once valued dignity, equality, and fairness.

“This Administration is clearly not interested in providing protection for refugees – if they were, they wouldn’t have lowered the refugee admissions goal every chance they’ve had.

“Sadly, this number isn’t based in fact. The fact is, the U.S. has the capacity to accept far more refugees than this. We know that we can vet them and resettle them at rates far higher than this – because the U.S. has done it for decades. This is purely a political decision, and one that couldn’t come at a worse time.

“The President is abusing his power by using people seeking safety as an opportunity to rile up hostility and create a climate of fear. Even though the vast majority of people in this country support welcoming refugees, this administration would like nothing more than to strip away long-standing protections and values for its own interests.”


Every year, the President determines the number of refugees who should be resettled to the U.S. in the upcoming fiscal year, signaling U.S. commitment to protect those fleeing violence, war, and persecution.

The United States is on track to resettle 30,000 refugees for this fiscal year, the lowest refugee admissions goal in the history of the program. Of the 70 million people displaced around the world, over 1.4 million people are identified as needing access to resettlement. A small fraction of those in need will ever be resettled. The Department of Homeland Security has already interviewed nearly 30,000 refugees, with nearly 9,000 more ready for travel, indicating that the U.S. would have no difficult resettling at least the same amount of refugees next fiscal year as they have done this year.

Prior to this Administration, the yearly refugee admissions goal since 1980 averaged 95,000 persons to be accepted per year, which is why Amnesty International USA joins with other organizations in calling on the Administration to set the goal at this amount.

In June, Amnesty International USA released a report, The Mountain is in Front of Us and the Sea is Behind Us’: The Impact of US Policies on Refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, documenting how refugee families continue to be locked in an impossible limbo, stuck abroad and denied opportunities for resettlement, because of discriminatory U.S. policies as they try to seek safety with a new life and a permanent home. Just this month, over 360 state and local elected leaders from 46 states sent a letter to the President, urging him to restore the number of refugee admissions to its historical average and resettle at least 95,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2020.

Through the Longer Table Initiative, Amnesty International USA and its supporters have been working to welcome refugees through community sponsorship. Actions by the Longer Table Initiative have included writing letters, signing up communities to sponsor a refugee or a refugee family to live locally, incorporating refugee stories into a book club, and more. Amnesty International USA members have passed almost 60 “I Welcome” Refugees resolutions declaring support for refugees in cities and local communities.


Trump Administration Seeks to Demonize Refugees With New Policy (press statement, 8/21/19)