The State Department quietly lifted its restriction this week on how many refugees are allowed to enter the U.S. despite efforts by the Trump administration to scale back refugee resettlements, The New York Times reported Friday.
Jennifer Smith, a department official, reportedly notified refugee groups of the decision Thursday in an email stating that they could begin bringing refugees to the U.S. “unconstrained by the weekly quotas that were in place.”
Many of the organizations that received the email are private agencies that help guide individuals hoping to enter the country through the two-year U.S. application process.
The number of refugees entering the U.S. could double as a result of the lifted restrictions, refugee advocates told the newspaper. The leap could go from 830 a week for the first three weeks of May to over 1,500 a week by next month.
While the lifted restriction occurred on the same day that a Richmond, Va.-based federal appeals court handed down a ruling that blocked President Trump’s travel ban targeting six-majority Muslim countries, the decision is not related to the ruling, the Times said.
Congress passed a spending bill last fall that tightly constrained the budget for the State Department’s refugee resettlement program. The spending bill passed earlier this month, however, does not impose any limits on refugee admissions.
A State Department spokeswoman told the Times that State consulted with the Justice Department about its refugee quotes before making the decision to adjust them.