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Refugee Resettlement Agencies Begin Closing U.S. Offices

They’re reacting to orders from the Trump administration.

Asia Mayfield by Asia Mayfield

Refugee resettlement agencies are shuttering their U.S. offices in response to pressure from the Trump administration. The U.S. plans to accept just 45,000 refugees in 2018, a dramatic decrease from 110,000 that Barack Obama hoped for.

“We’ve never seen a cut of this size and also a cut of this impact,” said Hans Van de Weerd an executive at the International Rescue Committee, one of the affected resettlement agencies.

President Trump believes that previous refugee standards were too lenient. American taxpayers were forced to feel the strain as Obama tried to prove how modern he was by promoting migrants. He didn’t go as far as Germany’s Angela Merkel did in weakening the country’s borders, but he certainly didn’t speak as the president of the U.S. should.

The White House’s primary goal is protecting and serving American citizens. Previous administrations seemed to forget that.

“The changes will consolidate smaller affiliates, reduce costs and simplify management structures to help the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program run in a way that is fiscally responsible and sustainable in the long term,” State Department spokeswoman Cheryl Harris said.

The State Department insists that the drop in refugee numbers wasn’t motivated by cruelty or lack of compassion. President Trump’s aggressive immigration strategy is intended to safeguard the interests of all Americans.

Because only 45,000 refugees are expected to move to the U.S. this year, most of the 324 resettlement offices in the countries won’t be needed. Dozens are closing entirely and many more are reducing their operations.

The offices are managed by non-profit organizations that work closely with the government. Their entire purpose is to help refugees integrate into their new lives.  They provide housing and job support, counseling services, and financial aid.

Refugee advocates are convinced that bringing the world’s distressed peoples to America is a way to solve the world’s problems. Critics of modern immigration policies claim that uprooting people’s lives and resettling them in America is less effective than providing aid to their home countries.

Resettlement centers serve refugees for five years.

“The population doesn’t go away when you turn off the spigot… If the intent is really to have people integrate into society then doing this is counter to that intent,” complained Robert Carey, former director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement under the Obama administration.

The slashes made to the nation’s refugee program are the first of their kind. Refugee advocates fear that the U.S. will never go back to admitting the number of people it did while Obama was in office.

“It took years to build up this capacity… Once you break it down it’s not easy to build it up again,” Van de Weerd of the International Rescue Committee said.

Most of the expected closures will occur in cities with multiple offices. However, advocates are growing frantic because they claim that a few of the closures will leave refugees in the area with nowhere else to turn.

The sole resettlement office in Hawaii plans to dramatically reduce its operations and won’t accept any new refugees for the remainder of the year. The two offices in Louisiana, meanwhile, are set to close.

At the start of President Trump’s presidency, he kicked off a firestorm of controversy when he tried to temporarily ban all refugees from entering the country. Liberal courts tried their hardest to stymy Trump’s efforts, but eventually, a limited version of President Trump’s executive order was implemented. 

The borders are now open, but the extreme vetting techniques proposed by President Trump while he was campaigning are in place. The measures are so much stricter than what was in place previously that officials say that may not even have time to process the 45,000 refugees that are allowed to enter this year.

“Under current vetting procedures, citizens from those countries already undergo additional security screening. What the administration is doing is effectively pausing these additional security checks,” Henrike Dessaules, the spokeswoman for the International Refugee Assistance Project, said.

1,385 refugees were admitted to the country in January. Last year, while Obama was still in office, the number was 6,777.

“You will see religious minorities, and Muslims, from these communities able to be resettled, and this is much better than the alternative of having them banned altogether— which I think was the fear early on,” Olivia Enos, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, said.

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